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Serpents Oath – Ascension

Serpents Oath
Ascension
by Gary Hernandez at 06 August 2022, 9:52 AM

When SERPENTS OATH released their debut album, “Nihil,” in 2020 the Belgium Black Metal band was a trio. Now, some 18 months later, they have expanded to five members and have released their sophomore full-length, “Ascension,” on Soulseller Records. It is another solid offering and firmly establishes the band as stalwart defenders of the dark arts.

There is a lot of consistency with SERPENTS OATH. I mean, okay, they expanded their lineup, but they are still with Soulseller Records, they returned to Néstor Avalos for their artwork, they still have the same sound, they maintain a thematic arc (“Ascension” picks up right where “Nihil” left off—both in narrative and in ethos), and they even follow the same pattern of interspersing the album with short atmospheric interludes. So, if you are familiar with “Nihil” you should know exactly what to expect with this album. Some might call it a lack of inventiveness on the band’s part; others might say the band knows who they are and are sticking to their vision. I’m in the latter camp.

First, the story. In the band’s words: The album “shows the next chapter of the rebellion of Lucifer which was depicted on the band’s first album ‘Nihil’ (2020). Now he has stormed the Throne of God only to find it empty and thus ascends to become his own God. The title ‘Ascension’ refers to this journey of becoming your own God.” I love that the band seeks to transcend the literal constraints of the narrative and actually has a larger message. I think this runs true to the Black Metal ethos and says a lot about what the band stands for. I also enjoy the continuity of a multi-album storyline, which makes me look forward to what will probably be a trilogy.

Favorite tracks are “Thy Mighty Serpent” as an iconic chant-and-return track; “Of Fang and Claw” which references Lex Talionis from the Satanic Bible and features a devastating drop that just rips; “Blood Moon,” the final and longest track on the album; and “Death the Destroyer,” for its recurring uneasy melodic strains. I should also note that the production quality is compelling across the entire album with lots of rich bass inlays—always a treat on Black Metal albums.

I reviewed “Nihil” at the end of the year of our plague, 2020. It was a strong debut and I have to say “Ascension” is an equally strong follow-up. With this album, the band has proven they are not a fluke. They have expanded their lineup with additional permanent members, thus hedging the loose ends; they have stuck to a consistent trajectory, thematically and sonically; and they produced a worthy sophomore album which any Black Metal fan should appreciate.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.  Invocation Pestum
2.  Summoning the Ancients
3.  Thy Mighty Serpent
4.  Invocation Perversum
5.  Blasphemy
6.  Bring down the Sun
7.  Invocation Maledictum
8.  Sworn to the Oath
9.  Of Fang and Claw
10.  Invocation Infectum
11.  Death the Destroyer
12.  Blood Moon
Lineup:
Daenum – Guitar
Tes Re Oth – Vocals
Draghul – Drums
Mørkald – Bass
Baelus – Guitar
Record Label: Soulsellers Records
     


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