Shrine Of The Serpent – Entropic Disillusion (2018) REVIEW

The burly quiescence of Shrine of the Serpent‘s debut full-length isn’t so much a swinging hammer of death/doom but a spiraling pillar of rot, growling as it parts the clouds and reverberates it’s hellish funereal thunder upon civilization. ‘Entropic Disillusion’ is my introduction to Shrine of the Serpent‘s doom prophecies but I’m no stranger to the doom and sludge centric world of musician Todd Janeczek. His most relevant project to Shrine of the Serpent is probably funeral doom group Aldebaran. The approach of this band initially seemed to pull from the sludgeless death/doom style of Aldebaran‘s ‘Buried Beneath Aeons’ though the style on ‘Entropic Disillusion’ approaches drumming in an entirely different manner. It is a pure death/doom release that favors the relative stillness of funeral doom over traditional doom metal elements but retains an urgent death metal tonality beyond most.

Shrine of the Serpent‘s self-titled debut EP definitely leaned towards the traditional doom metal realm and invoked the earliest Cathedral recordings if covered by Winter. It was an exciting sound that they carried through to their split with Black Urn in 2017. In terms of preparing and writing a death/doom full-length in 2018 ‘Entropic Disillusion’ seems to have been approached with increased ambition and some new influences. The somber tones of Evoken and Bell Witch surely had some affect upon the guitar work here though neither discography could account for the massive slow-motion death metal performances of tracks like “Hailing the Enshrined” and “Epoch of Annihilation”. The defining moments of Shrine of the Serpent‘s sound aren’t necessarily atmospheric in terms of say, the death/doom of Spectral Voice, but some of the same sensibilities come into play. I’d also point towards Hooded Menace‘s ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ as the guitar sound has a similar bone-snapping, buzzing readiness to it that is evocative of the more aggressive side of the early 90’s death/doom underground.

The exceptional thing about figuring out where ‘Entropic Disillusion’ fits into the funereal death/doom landscape is that their sound is deceptively simple in it’s approach. What initially comes across like a straightforward death/doom sound you’d heard from a group like Ophis quickly reveals a knack for Lycus style atmospheric funeral doom instrumentation, yet the pacing resists matching either. Big, burly death metal riffs are at the center of the mix and drive the album across a full hour of death/doom without overdoing the loud/quiet/loud of most classics in this style. The fully examined experience is closest to Ceremonium‘s debut yet the aggression capably gives way to lurid, depressive doom guitar constructs re-engineered for the unimaginable depravity of the modern age.

60 minute death/doom records absolutely give me anxiety both for their side-effects and the grand likelihood that I will bond with them too deeply. The eight hours of listening I’ve give ‘Entropic Disillusion’ hasn’t entirely convinced me that it is more than a well-conceived sub-genre iteration and as a death/doom obsessive that is meant as praise. The relation to Aldebaran‘s funeral/sludge grooves tipped me off into the right mode but this one belongs in the ears of old school death/doom metal fans and probably funeral doom-aligned folks above all else. I honestly have no gripes with any section or piece on this record and only wanted a little more speed in heavier tracks like “Epoch of Annihilation”. On that same note there is no part of this record that I wouldn’t recommend, it is an excellent example of death/doom. Here’s hoping a vinyl issue gets pressed at some point because the album art is worth blowing up.

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Artist Shrine of the Serpent
Type Album
Released April 23, 2018
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Four winds gather. 4.25/5.0

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