Rating:
7.5
Marduk - Serpent Sermon
25 May 2012


01. Serpent Sermon
02. Messianic Pestilence
03. Souls For Belial
04. Into Second Death
05. Temple Of Decay
06. Damnation's Gold
07. Hail Mary (Piss-Soaked Genuflexion)
08. M.A.M.M.O.N.
09. Gospel Of The Worm
10. World Of Blades
11. Coram Satanae [Limited edition bonus]


Hearing that blazing black metalers Marduk had, gasp, evolved or whatever during their careers from the blurring blast beat battery of (occasional guilty pleasure) Panzer Division Marduk, I thought I'd check to see what they are up to nowadays.

Before popping the disk into the tray and hitting play, I came up with a list of expectations:

1 - Ridiculous tempos and blurring blasturbation ahoy. (Check!)
2 - Occasional slower passages to show maturity and development. (Check!)
3 - Horrifying, blasphemous vocals spewing forth praise of Satam… which would be made endlessly more entertaining if the singer had a speech impediment a la Elmer Fudd. Think "Kwist Waping Bwack Metal!*" (Check on gurgling vocals. No particularly amusingly catchy choruses.)
4 - World War II or other movie sound effects to add atmosphere. (Nope. Not today.)

Well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad, and neither is the album.

The saying "be careful what you wish for because you just might get" comes to play here. After the lead in title track, a mediocre affair, the band starts hitting on all cylinders with "Messianic Pestilence". The sub-three minute jolt is followed by another strong track, "Souls For Belial". Well, at least the opening 2 minutes, before the band deviates from the pedal to the metal philosophy which has defined them and slows things down for a while. Truthfully, it just makes the song drag when they cut to half speed and spout "Souls For Belial" ad nauseum. They might have been better off ripping a page from the Panzer Division Marduk playbook, cutting it short and tossing in a WW2 sound effect of some poor bastards screaming after being set ablaze with a flamethrower.

The same "slow it down towards the end" blueprint is also tried in the next song, "The Second Death", which is decent but suffers from using the same approach as the prior track, only not up to the level set by its predecessor.

If "Souls For Belial"/"Second Death" seem a poor execution of trying to shake things up with tempo changes, "Temple Of Decay" is the opposite. The entire track is at a slow pace with some tribal drums, backing vocals, and just a creepy feel. It's a great, mood-altering shift from the generally blazing pace set by the opening trio.

If this review seems to go on too long, well, sorry, but so does the album. While "Damnation's Gold" has some more awesome Marduk moments, it also suffered from inconsistencies, with some forgettable parts.

Serpent Sermon really starts to drag after this. I found myself bored halfway through "Hail Mary (Piss Soaked Genuflection)", checking my watch and thinking, "this album is still going on? There are still another three tracks?"

I felt Exodus went on far too long with the near 80 minute Exhibit B, Serpent Sermon clocks in at a comparatively Jenny Craig-esque 46 minutes, yet feels just as long, overdone, and tiring.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good album with plenty of wardspeed tremolo riffing and "playing card in the spokes of a bicycle" drumming. There are some fantastic riffs, great vocals, and lots of intense moments. Ultimately, as with the tracks "Souls For Belial" and "Into Second Death", Serpent Sermon comes in strong, but gets weaker as it goes… causing it to just drag and go on a bit longer than it should.


*Seriously, when done reading this, go play that track and sing along, gurgling as best you can, substituting R's for W's. You'll never be able to listen to this track with breaking into a smile again.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Band profile: Marduk
Album: Serpent Sermon


 



Written on 16.06.2012 by
BitterCOld
BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.
More reviews by BitterCOld ››



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Bomzas - 16.06.2012 at 19:52  
Listened only once but it was enough. Pretty uninteresting. Only few places caught my attention.
weak 6 from me.
Baz Anderson - 16.06.2012 at 19:56  
I really like this album, it didn't seem to drag on for me... I don't care for "evolution" and "maturity" and whatever, so maybe I wasn't focusing on the slower tracks as much - but this seemed like a very solid and enjoyable album to me.
Troy Killjoy - 16.06.2012 at 22:59  
I scored it half a point higher myself, and definitely felt the opposite in regards to the mid-paced moments. I thought they added a nice atmospheric touch similar to their last few albums where the focus doesn't seem to be on ripping the listener's face off, but ripping their skin off in small strips.

In any case, I do agree that this tends to feel a bit dragged out by the end of it - but not so much that I end up disliking it. If they shaved off about six or seven minutes I'd probably score it closer to an 8.5 than just an 8.
Fredd - 16.06.2012 at 23:00  
There's a typo in the list. "Satam"
Troy Killjoy - 16.06.2012 at 23:28  
Written by Fredd on 16.06.2012 at 23:00
There's a typo in the list. "Satam"

That's a not-really-that-inside joke from about two years ago...
Fredd - 17.06.2012 at 00:24  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.06.2012 at 23:28

Written by Fredd on 16.06.2012 at 23:00
There's a typo in the list. "Satam"

That's a not-really-that-inside joke from about two years ago...

I thought so too.
BitterCOld - 17.06.2012 at 01:20  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.06.2012 at 22:59

I scored it half a point higher myself, and definitely felt the opposite in regards to the mid-paced moments. I thought they added a nice atmospheric touch similar to their last few albums where the focus doesn't seem to be on ripping the listener's face off, but ripping their skin off in small strips.

In any case, I do agree that this tends to feel a bit dragged out by the end of it - but not so much that I end up disliking it. If they shaved off about six or seven minutes I'd probably score it closer to an 8.5 than just an 8.


in the case of the Temple of Decay, it works and is a great change up. But in a couple of the songs they are just zipping along and it feels awkward, like driving over a speed bump without slowing down.
Troy Killjoy - 17.06.2012 at 01:24  
Understandable, and I agree. I suppose it just bothered you a smidgen more than it bothered me.
Moosh666 - 18.06.2012 at 11:38  
On it's own, Serpent Sermon for me was a decent release, I also agree it dragged a bit at the end, but there were a lot of intense moments. I guess this album had more impact on me because I deemed Wormwood an utter disappointment, so when this finally hit the shelves I was fucking blown away. I also might add that Mortuus sounds the best he has ever sounded this time round. \m/
Sonic MrSumo - 15.01.2013 at 08:01  
I think this album is outstanding!

Also, not having a dig, but I thought song-by-song album reviews were not permitted on Metalstorm? hmmmm...
BitterCOld - 15.01.2013 at 20:28  
Written by Sonic MrSumo on 15.01.2013 at 08:01

I think this album is outstanding!

Also, not having a dig, but I thought song-by-song album reviews were not permitted on Metalstorm? hmmmm...


first, it is not a song by song. while i mention some of the songs in order of appearance it is to establish a flow and issue with the album, i did not dedicate a short paragraph to each and every song. i spend significant time on other aspects/facets of the release or explaining my thoughts.

additionally official reviewers are granted more latitude in their approach to and format of reviews. they've been through the rodeo often enough that experience and the quality of work allows them the right to be more experimental than guest reviewers. if you had logged the hours i have proofing guest reviews, you'd fully understand why there are a different set of standards.

hmmmmmmm....
Sonic MrSumo - 16.01.2013 at 00:32  
Splendid confutation.

My intention was not to criticise the review, as I see no issue in reviewing an album song-by-song. I merely wanted to understand the framework to which guest reviewers and official reviewers must operate in. You've now made it clear, and I now understand that they are different frameworks. Upon earning one's pips, creative freedom ensues.
blackwreath13 - 26.02.2013 at 10:35  
I don't understand why everything this band releases is compared the Panzer Division Marduk, it came out over a decade ago and though it's a fan favourite is rarely considered their greatest work (especially by the band themselves). I found the album to be quite addictive, not as experimental as Wormwood but nice balance with not a single track I dislike (maybe M.A.M.M.O.N).

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