SerpentVThis UK doom band is one that I have followed since their very first live show. This release is their second full length album and we have a slight change in personnel for this recording, a line-up that has been solid over live shows for quite some time now actually. We now welcome Roland Scriver on guitar who has numerous years’ experience in similar bands and has been involved in other bands with singer Garry Ricketts. Not content with adding a new dimension to the guitar sound, Roland also did the artwork for this UK doom monster. This release sets a new standard for this band; there are so many improvements on what was already a stellar group.

The vocals are much stronger, not that they were weak on their debut release, but here Garry has stronger control over melodies, essentially nailing his consistency. Paul’s drumming is still more than a standard doom drummer, there are fills-a-plenty and little passages of improvisations, as I have said before, a certain Bill Ward’s influence to my ears and this release’s production highlights these sparks of inspiration and overall allows the release to be far more dynamic than its predecessor, and that bass sound…wow. I remember watching bassist Nick live once, I watched as through one track a bottle of refreshment placed by his feet slowly vibrated across the stage from where it began, yes this is heavy, but not overdriven to the point of doing it because you can, there is certainly more than enough personal credit due here, it is traditional in the sense of some of the 70’s and 80’s doom band sounds.

Live favourite ‘Sorrow’s Bastard’ leaves no stone unturned, rumbling along and shattering your speaker cones to within an inch of their useful life. ‘Let Them Starve’ picks up the momentum in the latter sections but still manages to bestow its monolithic backbone upon your aural receptors. An effects driven atmospheric space out occurs during one of the tunes solos which is a nice touch and if you can’t handle heavy too much, there is a short instrumental piece called ‘I Awake’ to calm your senses part way through this behemoth.

All in all, this is a massive leap forward for Serpent Venom, sharing the stage with the likes of Pentagram, Trouble and Goatess has done them a great service. The SV sound is revitalised, the development of the band is showing favourable fruit and the production (via Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio) drives this beast onto the next plateaux. The future is bright for this talented band that can walk easily amongst some of this genre’s leaders with others now following them.

(9/10 Paul Maddison)