Impending Doom - The Serpent Servant
11 songs (35:47)
Release year: 2009
Official Myspace, Facedown
Reviewed by Charles
“Christian scum! Religion of pity, god of the sick. We have-”… Wait!

I appear to have confused Mayhem’s second album with Christian deathcore troupe Impending Doom’s The Serpent Servant. How could such a mistake arise when one is A Grand Declaration of War on the pious, and the other is God-bothering worship music? Thanks to the arrival of this album in my mailbox courtesy of a horned-and-hooved, tin can-eating webzine colleague I have an opportunity to editorialise.

There’s nothing unmetal about Christianity. In Black Sabbath’s Black Sabbath, there are no lyrics that go “Satan’s sitting there, he’s smiling… that’s great news because I am a fully paid-up member of the Infernal Church and an admirer of all his evil deeds”. The correct follow-up line is, of course, “Oh no, please God help me”. If we return to that aforementioned Mayhem album, why is the fact that the War declared happens to be on Christianity important? Surely the album’s “oomph” comes from the fact that it’s a Grand Declaration of War, full stop. Conflict is inherently metal, not Satan himself. This is also the problem with NSBM bands. Sure, you are fighting the ZOG; the whole thing would still work perfectly if you changed that to “international capitalist bureaucracy” and waged a full on musical class-struggle. Listen to Bolt Thrower; what is metal, is War, and fighting, itself. Whyever not approach it from a Christian perspective?

Which brings us to Impending Doom. Regardless of the side it's on, the imagery behind titles like Storming the Gates of Hell gets the blood pumping. (This is nothing: Their last album’s gruesome cover, and title-“Nailed. Dead. Risen”-were clearly unsubtle enough to match The Passion of the Christ lash-for-lash). This leads me to excitedly anticipate the arrival of true demon-slaying warrior brutality in the name of the Lord. Unfortunately, after a three-paragraph build-up, this isn’t really it. Of course, it is brutal, but only in the mechanical sense which makes all deathcore brutal. There are more skull-grinding breakdowns and gruff vocal bellows than you can shake a sceptre at, and the usual stuff is here. There is the huge (and obvious) Nothing-era Meshuggah influence in the jolting rhythms, and slight additions of atmospheric tonal colour through the use of reverberating lead guitar warbles, but these factors don’t really expand the one-dimensional approach at work here. There are moments of instrumental flashiness, but they are there because it is the norm for this type of music, or so it seems to my ears.

I’d like to add the disclaimer that I am far from a connoisseur of this thing known as “deathcore”; perhaps there are others that are who discern something distinctive in The Serpent Servant. If so, I’d be interested to hear. As it is, for me this is one of those many albums that functions perfectly well as listening material without distinguishing itself or inspiring countless revisiting. It’s not that there’s nothing to dig here. Revival: America, for example, combines looping, high-pitched guitar skulduggery and slow, slow thudding riffs with consummate ease. The whole record does have a pounding, militaristic vibe, which brings us nicely back to the “war” themes about which I’ve harped at such length here. But ultimately, as I read the lyrics to Anything Goes, which recycle the creationist line of “people are simply too great to have evolved through natural selection” it occurs to me that maybe they just like humans too much. And if we draw that conclusion, perhaps it makes sense to say that Christianity isn’t metal after all?

Killing Songs :
Storming the Gates of Hell, Revival: America
Charles quoted 60 / 100
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