Few albums in 2023 will resonate with such venom as this unholy alliance. A harrowing, disturbing 41 minutes spread over five tracks, Verminous Serpent, The Malign Covenant, sees the merging of the talents and shattered thoughts of Slidhr’s Joseph Deegan, Malthusian’s Matt Bree and Alan Averill (Primordial/Dread Sovereign). With such a dark collective, it’s no wonder that this sinister offering is likely to challenge, unsettle and confront. It simply oozes with nastiness.
Verminous Serpent – The Malign Covenant (Amor Fati)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Hutchings
Few albums in 2023 will resonate with such venom as this unholy alliance. A harrowing, disturbing 41 minutes spread over five tracks, Verminous Serpent, The Malign Covenant, sees the merging of the talents and shattered thoughts of Slidhr’s Joseph Deegan, Malthusian’s Matt Bree and Alan Averill (Primordial/Dread Sovereign). With such a dark collective, it’s no wonder this sinister offering will likely challenge, unsettle and confront. It simply oozes with nastiness.
The itching scab that demanded scratching began to crust during the lockdown period, but there was a definite decision to avoid the approach of so many bands; unsurprisingly, there’s no reference to the pandemic in this release. In fact, given the individuals involved, it would have been astonishing if there had been.
How to describe Verminous Serpent, then? Well, an explosion of Doom-tinged darkness, a malevolent mushroom cloud of bile and malignancy, one that seeps through every pore. It’s impossible to be comfortable listening to the opening track Seraphim Falls, with its mid-song pause cueing questions, the production raw, basic, and Averill’s vocals unrecognisable from his normal works. His snarls, guttural roars and even shrill cries don’t shed any light.
Indeed, there is little to tie Verminous Serpent with any of the other bands linked to this project, such is the bruising and venomous feel and delivery. Bree’s drumming isn’t for the virtuoso in any shape or form, presenting as both chaotic and expertly controlled in the same moment, something rather unique to this project.
The album feels dirty, a creeping filth that swirls in uncontrollable patterns, savagely dipping, climbing again, then searing the skin with its blistering tendrils of Black Metal that drip like molten iron.
Each track takes its own path. Transcendent Pyre is awash with darkened tremolo riffs that fall like sparks. There’s an eerie backdrop to it, Averill’s preying bass riffs adding to the depth of the sound, whilst his continued screams resemble ancient torture chambers.
It’s rust-coated. There’s no tin of polish applied in any sense. The title track is a jarring assault on the senses, a jolting cacophony of demonic devastation. It’s punishing in style and delivery, yet, given the backgrounds of the band, it’s perhaps the release that was necessary.
One can only anticipate that this is an album very much made for the band by the band. By the time you arrive at the 13-minute finale of Deaths Head Mantra, you’ll possibly be wondering if you haven’t been transported back to those early Scandinavian days when production was sneered at, the emphasis being more on message. It’s that gnarly.
Visceral in feel and finish, the arrival of Verminous Serpent was low-key, unannounced. It’s an unpredictable melting pot that rumbles, boils, and explodes. Brutally punishing, it’s also an essential listen. Few albums can shake your very foundations to the extent that you feel soiled. Verminous Serpent are one that can.