Often a sophomore album will be a marginal evolution from what came before. There are notable exceptions where a band tear up the script and start again completely; Darkthrone being an obvious candidate. Blood Of Serpents haven’t exactly thrown away the rule book here, but those of you who enjoyed the thrashy death metal leanings of “Black Dawn”, might be surprised to discover an slightly different band from that which recorded the 2014 debut.

This is an altogether more blackened approach than the previous album, and comparisons with fellow countrymen Marduk are not without reason. “Sulphur Sovereign” is decidedly less polished than recent efforts from those Swedish forefathers, and as such gives Blood Of Serpents a more punchy aggressive edge. The drums cut through a savagely tight twin tremelo-picked guitar attack, underpinned with pummelling bass lines and complimented by a sandpaper-in-the-throat vocal delivery from Thomas Clifford. Sonically these guys share some common ground with turn-of-the-millennia offerings from Behemoth… whatever happened to that band, eh? 😉

Slower moments such as “Canticle”, “Prophet Of A False Faith” and parts of “As The Temple Burns” offer a brooding respite from what may otherwise have seen the album outstay its welcome; let’s face it, 48 minutes of having your face metaphorically torn off has the potential to get tiresome, no matter how well performed it may be. There’s plenty of dynamism here to keep even a jaded old git like me interested for more than a few listens.

Tracks like “Upon Waters Dark” the aforementioned “As The Temple Burns” stand out for me as moments of intelligently structured song-writing, the band exercising restraint and picking the right moments to unleash their key weapon; that twin guitar attack and blast-beat combo. Album closer “A Void Between Worlds” is another example of clever pacing, maintaining a frenetic tempo until the final quarter, which leaves this curious listener wondering what they’ll do next.

(6.5/10 Doogz)