Released: 2008, Rise Above Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Wow, this is heavy. This is heavy, dense, thick, and crushing. Following up 2007’s TRIDENT NOR FIRE EP, Belgium’s Serpentcult return to break your spine with their full length debut of doom, WEIGHT OF LIGHT. Stylistically, the band combines the sonic gusto of bands like early Cathedral and Electric Wizard with the smoked out swagger of Goatsnake to create 8 powerful tracks of groove driven riffs. Much of the success of WEIGHT OF LIGHT can be credited vocalist Michelle Nocon, one of the few female vocalists front a traditional doom band. Her delivery style is closer to ‘70s era Heart than Lacuna Coil, a practical choice given the music presented here. Her bright vocals lend a stark contrast to the murky instrumentation trudging in the background.
The disc stays clear from the drone-a-thons that tend to scare off new initiates (most of the songs are within the 5 minute mark), focusing rather on creating memorable riffs and actual song structures. “New World Order” kicks in the door with swinging guitars tuned way low, courtesy of Frederic Caure. Nocon’s vocals bounce atop in an off key fashion, creating a psychedelic vibe that fits perfectly. “Screams From the Deep” is a more traditional doom opus, keeping a mid-pace trot that will start your head nodding. The title track shows Nocon incorporating a little “soul” into her approach that compliments the groove of the song. “Awaken the Kraken” is an instrumental full of discordant, uneasy arrangements that create the perfect soundtrack for the namesake beast to arise from the depths. “Arkanum” is the longest song on the disc at almost 9 minutes, so if you don’t have the stomach for the slow and plodding, this would be the one track to skip on the disc. If you’re into that kind of thing, it’s not a band song on its own merit. “Red Dawn” starts out promising with its drum rolls and guitar feedback, but starts to fall apart as the song picks up. The true gem is the final cut, “Serpentcult”. Clocking in at 8 minutes, it’s the summation of what the band is all about. The riffs here are so thick you’ll need a machete to cut through them. The song keeps the pace moving so things don’t get tired, and at the end you’ll need to take a deep breath to recover.
The doom scene isn’t for everyone, but dammit, this is heavy stuff! If you own at least one album from either the Southern Lord Records or Rise Above Records catalog, consider this to be mandatory. If you have no idea what those two labels are about or you’re on the fence, WEIGHT OF LIGHT still isn’t too far out in left field to attract new converts.