Over recent years quite a few decent Metal releases from Turkey have crossed my path, and Ensemble Under The Dark Sun, the debut offering from Serpent Of Old, is another to add to that list. This is a band that delivers a sound that is, to the greater part, Death/Black Metal, melding elements of Doom with progressive flair and organic fluidity.
Serpent Of Old – Ensemble Under The Dark Sun (Transcending Obscurity Records)
Release Date: 30 June 2023
Words: Jools Green
Here there is technical excellence to the delivery, making Ensemble Under The Dark Sun an impressively engaging listen, which is quite a feat considering most tracks are between seven and ten minutes in duration.
It’s easy to lose a listener over an extended time scale, but Ensemble Under The Dark Sun will have you riveted to every minute and every note, such is the engaging and complex nature of this album. I also felt that sound-wise, there is a slight Polish Death/Black influence here too.
The six-track, forty-two-minute release opens with The Sin Before The Great Sin, lyrically an interesting concept that is “A narrative to commemorate the genesis of our predicament; ramified into the essence of our spirit. Lest we forget the originator and the rightful sinner.”
Ominously haunting and reflective to open with powerful, well-placed riffs, this pans out into an intense blackened sound and, after an eerie scream, becomes more driving with a haunting repeat, with very precise phrasing alongside deep vocal growls and higher screams, ebbing and building engagingly across the entirety of the track.
Next up is Unsaturated Hunger And Esoteric Lust, which opens on a hugely engaging driving riff that also packs a punch, ebbing back to a more eerie blackened mood. Again you get a very fluid ebb and build and a superb density to the sound along with dense, rich riffing, which adds so much depth and richness to those intense moments and a bold contrast against the quieter segments and the haunting leadwork towards the close is just sublime.
The Fall is the album monster at ten minutes duration. Dark and doomy to open with a haunting melody and bursts of tremolo picking, the superbly protracted deep raw vocals cutting through powerfully. Again very impactfully phrased musically, the acidic torturous screams and haunting bass work that cuts through partway through the second half add another eerie facet to the track.
The shortest piece, Virtue Of The Devil In His Loins, at just under two and a half minutes, is quietly reflective and haunting with a very eerie repeat, fading briefly before returning in a darker and more intense blackened format. With haunting, clean vocals emanating from the background, this is a fascinating and surprising piece that I thought was going to be just an instrumental interlude, given its brevity.
From The Impending Dusk continues in the established dark, haunting mood that prevails across the release. Intense bursts of riffs repeatedly emerge between the growls, and the overall dark melodic aspect becomes more complex as the track progresses. With powerful ebbs that build alongside superbly protracted growls, haunting screams, intense riffing, and soaring lead bursts, there are more of those haunting backing vocals found in the previous piece.
The final piece, Idiosyncrasy, is “A testament to the inconsequential existence and the anomalous vulgarity of human virtuousness. Idiosyncrasies of life laid bare through infelicity.” Ominously dark and doomy to open, the riffs gradually take a blackened turn. As it plunges into doomier depths, the cavernous growls are complemented by a following haunting but dark melodic element. There is a complexly convoluted close to the track that is utterly fascinating.
The drum work across this album, I must mention, like all the musicianship, is superb. It’s carefully understated, so you don’t immediately notice it, but when you do, it impresses. There’s just so much going on you need multiple listens to fully appreciate it and notice every little facet of the construct. An album that keeps on giving.
The striking artwork for Ensemble Under The Dark Sun is by Santiago Caruso, and the album is suggested as being of interest to fans of The Chasm, Dead Congregation Engulfed, Grave Miasma, Cruciamentum, Decipher, but I also think anyone who loves Polish style Death/Black Metal would enjoy this release.
Serpent Of Old – Ensemble Under The Dark Sun is available from Bandcamp.