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Serpent’s Kiss – Dragon King

Serpent’s Kiss
Dragon King
by Jamie Hollis at 28 January 2023, 3:49 AM

A concept album with some real power and variety. This is SERPENT’S KISS’ second album, and having made us wait 4 years for it you would like to hope it’s worth the wait. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is! This is a great album with lots of dynamic highs and lows. It’s an absolute pleasure to endure the journey that it takes you on… despite the dark ending…A demonic voice counts down from 10 and then we’re off to the races! With the strength of good old-fashioned JUDAS PRIEST, “Starbound” packs an aggressive punch with a great production. William’s guitar work is sensational all round including some phenomenal soloing on this one. Also, Nikki’s vocal harmonies in the choruses are great. Although I would’ve liked some extra reverb on the vocals, they sit quite well in the mix and contribute to the semi-raw production that I think the band were aiming for. Great opening track.

“Fire Drake” starts with a surreal harmonized guitar intro before dropping down into one of the most disgusting riffs I’ve ever heard! Absolutely solid stuff. If you sit through this without banging your head, you’re not normal. I really like the speed of this track as it allows you to breathe a little while still being quick. Stunning harmonized guitars through the bridge as well where William once again shines. We end with the Lord’s prayer surrounded by guitar melodies to reflect the somber tone and then, amen.

We’re into the slightly more upbeat “Wolf”. This is the ideal supplement to the previous tracks as it lifts the mood slightly without being cheesy and cheerful. Wayne’s bass work on this one is worthy of a special mention as he adds all the right fills in all the right places. Halfway through we enter a much more sinister bridge section which is built beautifully before dropping back into the more comfortable verse and chorus. I have to say, the chorus is a little weak, but I understand what they were going for with it. I actually wondered if it should’ve been a little faster, and since there’s no drummer credited I reckon it’s a drum machine that they’ve had to work around. Just shows that technology doesn’t always help. Nevertheless, the track is a great stand-alone banger and we end with a cool wolf howl.

Now it’s time for an instrumental! “The Winged Messenger” has us gliding through the heavens in the intro as wind and guitars carry us majestically before the drums increase the intensity. I love the guitar work on this track as well as the subtle keyboards which are very effective. The changes from double time and half time in the drums work nicely to keep the song from becoming repetitive. We once again end in a sinister manner. So mysterious. A Thin Lizzy inspired harmonized riff kicks off “All For One” and then this very groovy bassline comes in with the drums. The song progresses effortlessly as Nikki bellows a mighty scream. The verses feel somewhat like Def Leppard, and when coupled with a catchy chorus this song is certainly very memorable. Maybe it’s a little limp wristed or soft, but I like it as a bit of variety on the album. Plus, we get a killer guitar solo as usual so there’s literally nothing to complain about.

There’s something quite progressive being hinted at in the intro to “Dark Oppressor” and I wish they’d made more of an effort to harness that rather than just stopping and breaking into a heavy verse. Otherwise, it’s a great song with a stunning bridge that reminded me loosely of JUDAS PRIEST’s track “Locked In” in the way it changed key as the lovely solo started. Thankfully for the last 30 seconds of the song, the beautiful prog thing returns but I am once again left wanting more of it. I can’t really say much about “Hydra” to be honest. Weakest song on the album for me as there’s not much to it apart from purpose in the concept of the album. There’s a lovely soft bridge section of course, but that is overshadowed by everything else.

I was expecting “The Swan Of Tuonela” to lead straight into the title track, but I was wrong. It’s a Brian May style stand alone guitar instrumental which is truly hypnotic. Great guitar work as usual. Killer riffs bless us in the title track to close the final chapter of this epic concept album. Nikki goes into full story telling mode with a hint of Dave Mustaine to his voice at times. The soothing bridge in this one gives a false sense of ending. The big guitars soon return and thunderous drums signal a final moment of toil until… stop! Monks? We’re in a church? Or is it a cave? This must symbolize death. How tragic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that this album took me on. It’s a great contribution to the world by the English-Canadian alliance that is SERPENT’S KISS and it’s definitely worth checking out their other work and be sure to keep an eye out for them. Great band, great noise, great energy, great purpose… great music. Thank you.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Starbound
2. Fire Drake
3. Wolf
4. The Winged Messenger
5. All For One
6. Dark Oppressor
7. Hydra
8. The Swan Of Tuonela
9. Dragon King
Nikki Wozzo – Vocals
William Philpot - Guitar
Wayne Russell - Bass
Record Label: Travellers Records


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