Album Review: Serpentine Dominion 'Serpentine Dominion'
Oct 28th, 2016 on Metal Blade Records
02. The Vengeance in Me
03. Vanquished Unto Thee
04. Divide, Conquer, Burn, and Destroy
05. Sovereign Hate
06. On the Brink of Devastation
07. Jagged Cross Legions
09. This Endless War
Unfortunately there isn't much of a history for Serpentine Dominion as they are a brand new supergroup of some of the finest metal musicians in the industry. The union of Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage), Shannon Lucas (Black Dahlia Murder, All That Remains), and George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher (Cannibal Corpse).
In 2009 during the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, Adam, Shannon, and Corpsegrinder all met and performed together in their respective bands. At that time, the idea was sparked to do a side project and 7 years later, Serpentine Dominion is born.
Intro and The Vengeance in Me
The first track is an intro track that does exactly what it is designed to do, introduce the band and the album. It starts out melodic and dare I say reminiscent to some of Metallica's work from "And Justice for All". All of the masterful guitar work is soon replaced by what can only be described as what Killswitch Engage would sound like at its very heaviest point, but faster and more precise.
The Intro seamlessly moves into the first track, The Vengeance in Me, to showcase the man who in my opinion has set the bar for guttural, death metal vocals; Corpsegrinder. The blast beat drums and powerful double bass kicks are how it's done and few other than Shannon can make that happen. While listening to Adam's screaming mini-solos sprinkled throughout The Vengeance in Me, I can absolutely envision Adam making some of the faces he is prone to making while performing.
Vanquished Unto Thee
I was just the littlest bit confused going into Vanquished Unto Thee because the first few seconds actually sounded very similar to The Vengeance in Me. When you play the first few seconds of one, then bounce over to the other, then just go back and forth, the first few seconds of each song sound really quite similar. By no means are they identical, not at all, I'm just saying that to me they sound very similar.
That however is where the similarities end because Vanquished Unto Thee is an incredible track. The thing that I am beginning to notice as the album goes on is that there are so many different kinds of metal being represented in these tracks and Vanquished Unto Thee really harnesses multiple styles of metal. In this track alone we have aspects of death metal from the vocals; a little bit of hardcore from the single word backing vocals; possibly some true metal from the mixture of clean and guttural vocals; and a little hint of speed metal with the solo that is about three-quarters through the song but even that seems to blend with some symphonic metal. The lyrics make me think of some war or even viking metal too.
Divide, Conquer, Burn, and Destroy
Continuing on with the blend of styles of metal, Divide, Conquer, Burn, and Destroy absolutely has elements of grindcore in the beginning. Interlaced throughout the entire track is this melodic metalcore riff that is very common with Killswitch Engage. Right about half way in the track is a strange little micro-solo that really gives me a power metal impression.
Things get super heavy near the end of the song. A beat that makes your leg bounce, long drawn out growls, and blast beats that that feel like they should just never end.
A melodic start makes way for a melodic basis for Sovereign Hate. Short of keys filling in, the start of the song is very black metal-like in many ways. The body of the track has this really catchy, skittering riff when mixed with the slower, Cannibal Corpse style drumming, really enhances the rapid-fire vocals. The chorus has multiple layers of vocals from screaming to barking to clean yelling. Sovereign Hate is like the 7-Layer Salad of heavy metal and I just love it.
The basic structure of the Serpentine Dominion songs are all the same in that they have an intro, the body of the song, then at the three-quarter mark the song completely transforms and then comes to a finish. Sovereign Hate gets pretty serious at about the 2:54 mark and slows way, way down.
On the Brink of Devastation
On the Brink of Devastation is fast, very fast. The entire song exhibits an intense urgency that has been marinaded in resolution. Blast beats are force fed a meaty riff while husky vocals maniacally laugh on. There really isn't much else that can be said about this short track other than it being fast, powerful, and on point.
Jagged Cross Legions
Jagged Cross Legions feels like the trio enlisted help from Glenn Benton of Deicide. The entire intro of the track sounds like something right out of the Deicide library. Quarter of the way in and the clean vocals make an appearance and for the first time in the album, I was turned off completely. In this song, I really hate the clean vocals mainly because they take a fairly dominant role in the song.
Later in the song there are major metalcore influences both structurally and in the solos as well. Corpsegrinders vocals near the end are pure, unadulterated grindcore. For a moment I thought that maybe I was listening to some old Repulsion or even Napalm Death.
Prelude and This Endless War
Intro isn't the only instrumental track on this album as Prelude is the other one. A prelude is supposed to be something that precedes or introduces something important, therefore This Endless War should have knocked my socks clean off.
This Endless War may start out fairly bland, but give it a chance. When it picks up and shows off some progressive metal elements, it has more substance than I had expected it to. The clean vocals chanting "we will rise" made me rise my fist to the air as if shaking torment towards the oppressors. Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic but Adam D. is well known for being over-the-top and dramatic about a lot of his actions. This Endless War closes out the album with a truly epic masterpiece of metal.