Released: 2016, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Another day, another "super group." Although this one does possess a certain intrigue that others may not given its unlikely teaming of Cannibal Corpse frontman George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher, ex-Black Dahlia Murder/Battlecross/All That Remains drummer Shannon Lucas and Killswitch Engage guitarist/class clown Adam Dutkiewicz - and the nearly five years it's taken since word got out that Serpentine Dominion were indeed a thing for the project to bear fruit.
That left plenty of time for folks to wonder just what in the hell it was going to sound like – with the prospects being anything from promising (a more melodic take on Cannibal-style death metal) to horrifying (a Dethklok-like death metal piss-take) or somewhere in between. Well now we have the answer in the form of Serpentine Dominion's self-titled full-length debut. And though its somewhat meager – nine songs, including two instrumentals, clocking in at just 27 minutes – it falls somewhere in the “somewhere in between” category, encompassing aspects of all three members' current and past bands while not sounding too much like any of them.
And though its gets off to a particularly vicious start with the 2:31 barnstormer “The Vengeance In Me,” which sounds like an atypically catchy Cannibal tune with its emphatic sing-along chorus, it soon finds its stride as more straight up melodic death metal a la Black Dahlia, with a hint of metalcore in the occasional breakdowns and Dutkiewicz's good-cop cleans and shrieks. And that's where things can get a bit awkward, as on his earnest tradeoffs with Fisher on the otherwise pile-driving “Vanquished Unto Thee” or “Sovereign Hate.”
The dynamic certainly puts Fisher in uncharted waters here as he provides occasional harmonies, backgrounds and contrast to another vocalist, and finds himself contending with ample melody and more conventional structure, after pretty much just taking the role of flamethrower in Panzer Division Cannibal. And he handles himself with aplomb here, never losing the command or raw power he shows time and again with Cannibal while taking nothing away from the moodiness or crunching catchiness of “On The Brink Of Devastation” or the monumental finale “This Endless War.”
Though “Jagged Cross Legions” just don't quite connect, as it feels like the band are trying to cram too much into too small a package, just about everything else here comes across pretty well. Dutkiewicz proves his death bona fides, and is smart enough to not only keep his goofy humor in check but retain his keen sense of melody to make something that is brutal, palatable and genuine. Just wish there was a little more of it.