Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Serpent – Nekromant

If someone were to say to me “there’s this great band I just discovered, they’re awesome and they blend elements of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, early Metallica, and even a bit of Sabbath to create something that sounds familiar, yet also fresh and new” I’d probably respond with something like “you had me at Maiden and Priest, who the hell is it?!?”  Well, that’s pretty much what I said to myself the first time I listened to Nekromant, the newest album from Swedish power-trio metal merchants Serpent.  I do love me some traditional “melodic” metal or whatever they call old school metal these days.  In the short time since I first heard Serpent I’ve seen them referred to as both Stoner Rock and Doom Metal, but on this album at least, I’d have to say they are more along the lines of early Maiden, mid-period Priest and Dio-era Sabbath, with some thrash metal passages mixed in here and there.  In any case, they’ve crafted a rocking feast of riffs for the ears.  Not to mention that guitarist Ulf Samuelsson shares the same name as one of the most feared, hard-hitting (and dirtiest) defensemen to ever prowl NHL hockey rinks.  That gets bonus points in my book right there!
“Hounds of Hell” gets things started with a slow doomy pace before kicking up the tempo straight into a gallop that would be at home on Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All.  “Doom On You” is a great mid-tempo driver, followed by “Feverdream” a more Sabbath-y affair with a great double-time middle section lead break with some very Iommi-esque riffs to boot.  “Demon On Our Side” is another speedy number with an infectious Maiden-y repeating lead chorus riff and a galloping bass line.  “Hey You” takes a decidedly more Sabbath-y turn with a doomier tempo and a lead break that begins with a mid-tempo Iommi-like section, then quickens to a faster passage very reminiscent of Dave Murray, then finishes with a psychedelic whammy bar fueled flourish evoking K.K. Downing.  “Praying For A Curse” begins as another quick paced shuffle then transitions to a slow plodding doom stomp, then picks up again to full gallop.  “Leaving The World” shows a more melodic bluesy side with quieter bluesy passages between full tilt heavier sections, picking up speed during the lead break before boiling back down to the heavy blues beat.  Up next is “This Is My Time” which begins with a gallop that feels like the rhythm section of Iron Maiden’s “Running Free”, before moving into a breakdown that features more of Samuelsson channeling Dave Murray.  Finishing up the album is “Master Of Ceremony” a power metal jaunt bearing similarities to 80’s Judas Priest and Dio-era Sabbath with the rawness of early Metallica and classic Iron Maiden.

Bassist/vocalist Piotr Wawrzeniuk’s vocals are melodic and smooth throughout, his bass guitar and Per Karlsson’s drums are ever-present and razor sharp, and Ulf Samuelsson’s guitar work is spectacular, to put it mildly.  Anybody that can evoke the masterful riffing and phrasing of Iommi, the speed and fluidity of Murray, and the flash and psychedelia of late 70’s K.K. Downing, is a master of the instrument in my humble opinion, and there are certainly nods to early Kirk Hammett as well.  To sum up, if you like classic metal, with great riffing and soaring vocals, this album is a slam-dunk.


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