Serpent Warning are from Finland and have a classic doom approach to their sound laden in the sultry laid back moments of the 70’s. Whilst staying well clear of the retro/occult rock movement of late, you will be more at home listening to this 6 track release right next to Saint Vitus and some of the doomier elements of Witchfinder General.
The guitar tone is a little timid compared to modern doom bands, but sounds extremely similar to Dave Chandler’s Saint Vitus sound. It is devoid of sustain to a certain extent and sometimes sounds a little flat by being only marginally distorted in sound. You could say the tone is a little more authentic without a genuine contrived effort to do so. The vocal style of now departed vocalist Samuli Pesonen (also of The Wandering Midget and black metal band Horna) may be an acquired taste to some listeners, but it is rather strong and conveys some emotion of the tracks that are on offer, along with 3 tracks from their 2012 ‘Beyond Wisdom’ EP. Since being replaced by female vocalist Suvi Laaninen it remains to be seen if the songs from this release will gain any changes to their emotive responses, although judging by some of the newer recordings I have heard, it certainly does add another level if mystique to the Serpent Warning sound.
Out of the newer tracks to tempt you, ‘Evil River’ starts the release, but this doesn’t represent whole range of Serpent Warning. For this, move towards the older songs like the outstanding ‘Luna’ and self-titled ‘Serpent Warning’. These songs offer greater depth, great variance in their arrangements and basically feel more wholesome ridden with life experiences. That is not to say newer tracks are too dull, but the older material is certainly more expansive and as the release plays out the songs become more involving.
This is a vintage doom sound that doesn’t rely on Black Sabbath’s past material to make their point known, perhaps you could say it is vintage in its arrangement with simple guitar structures, but you will surely enjoy the material even if it does provide a slight cold listening experience in some quarters, but that’s what this is all about in reality, so go forth and buy this and know it before their Muskelrock performance later this year.
(7/10 Paul Maddison)