Serum Dreg – Lustful Vengeance (2018) REVIEW

One of the earliest and certainly most atmospherically compelling projects to erupt from the Portland, Oregon based Vrasubatlat collective was Serum Dreg‘s blurred mix of atmospheric black metal and Hellhammer-esque punk-as-fuck speed metal bursts. ‘Impure Blood’ was echoed like the screams of a freshly re-animated corpse of a thousand year old wizard of the dark arts. Though it felt highly experimental and almost sludge-rocking at times, Serum Dreg‘s sound had a certain groove to it that was missing from other Vrasubatlat releases beyond. Across the brief but powerful 25 minutes of ‘Lustful Vengeance’ Serum Dreg realizes the potential of that demo but expands the idea to something far more listenable.

If you were to take a step back and squint your ears the ‘Impure Blood’ demo was almost surely in the spirit of releases like Mayhem‘s infamous ‘Deathcrush’ while this album steps up it’s vision and clarifies away some of the murky atmospherics. ‘Lustful Vengeance’ reminds me heavily of a cult Brazilian underground death/black metal band Mystifier if their doom influenced moments on ‘Göetia’ were replaced with something closer to Hellhammer or Impiety‘s ‘Salve The Goat…Iblis Exelsi’ 7″. I’m not sure if the album is meant to invoke the first wave of black metal at all but it has a similarly primal attack to it. Don’t get me wrong here though Serum Dreg‘s style is primarily ‘war metal’ but the influence of first wave black metal and atmospheric death metal is not lost upon my ears and while it might not be cavern-core ‘Lustful Vengeance’ is appropriately noisome.

In fact the duo of Ash Borer alumni that make the line-up of Serum Dreg both provide vocals on the recording. One leans towards death metal growls while the other provides snarling black metal affect, often in chaotic tandem. I’m going to venture to guess that R. (Adzalaan, Ash Borer, Vrasubatlat founder) provides the black metal vocals that are theatrically insane as he jumps from a Proscriptor-like rasp to Attila Csihar (Mayhem) style psychopathy. It all comes together best on shorter tracks like “Death Ritual” and falls apart a bit on the longer, sludgier moments of “Rotten Pillar/Lustful Vengeance”. I find the energy and aesthetics of Serum Dreg addictive in the same sense that a lot of hardcore is; it might not be memorable but it is a physical experience when everything is in full war-blasting motion.

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Artist Serum Dreg
Type EP
Released April 20, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Vrasubatlat Official Website
Genres

Hedonist and heretic alike. 3.0/5.0

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