“Wehe dieser grossen Stadt! – Und ich wollte, ich sähe schon die Feuersäule, in der sie verbrannt wird!” // “Woe to this great city — And I wanted to see the fire column where she was burned!” –Friedrich Nietszche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
The intellectual symbolism found within the oft-quotational lyrics and band name are at first somewhat perplexing. The name Serpent Column itself refers to a monument relocated from Delphi by the Ottoman empire to commemorate the Grecian defeat of the Persian empire. It represented many things as both a golden site of sacrifice and later a symbol of celebration of opposition to slavery. Interpreting the symbolism of ancient objects is better left to someone more academic, yet I will be eternally curious as to what studies lead these interesting musicians towards the name. ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’ is another interesting choice that I personally interpreted as ‘Hill-like Sea’ though I am no expert on Greek alliteration or interpretation, “ornuthi” could also mean “hovering” or floating if taken literally. Either interpretation goes a long way to describe the swirling mass of liquefied black/thrash metal that this mysterious band regales me with. There is pride and power behind the music of Serpent Column, it aspires to be both visceral and beautiful and I believe the result eclipses their goal in a sort of magically bruising barrage of existential metal noise.
You’ll be greeted by an ocean’s worth of warm, crunchy late 90’s Scandi metal distortion adding power to already prancing-yet-hideous guitar riffs. Like a god-hero soldier slashing away with a sword that could create waves, Serpent Column builds then rides flurries of chest-shuddered riff movements. Cascading modern black metal guitars gallop and trounce across a firmly chaotic battery of thrash metal informed chugs and snare knocks. It is spell-binding, as if DeathSpell Omega were in service to Arghoslent. The more moving, melodic riffs are handily borrowed from melodic black metals finest movers and shakers to great effect. The drumming is propulsive yet fully seated in the the erotic blast-fields of atmospheric/progressive black/death metal. I can’t think of black metal album with such a compellingly scented pair of gigantic balls since Svartdauði’s earth shattering ‘Flesh Cathedral’ back in 2012.
At only 36 minutes, each fire-borne song on ‘Ornuthi Thalassa’ trounces the previous with the vigor of a warrior. As the intensity builds, heavier structures are introduced while the more sentimentally melodic riffs grease me along the ride even faster. This record is perhaps too dense to appear beautiful upon first listen, but the subtlety beneath the crackling guitar push is leagues better than your average me-too, off-kilter extreme metal band. This is a strong and professional album that combines the darkest trends in independent music and gives a powerful shove of thrashing classic metal energy. A rare piece of mysterious music fully worthy of interpretation, of thoughtful examination.