The freed and infuriate hand that’d featured so prominently a whirler of sturm und drang on ‘Mirror of Darkness‘ (2019) now plunges the corporeal torso deep into its paradigmatic colossus, surely footed within two solid worlds. One is unorthodoxy spawned from the orthodox, an edge beveled by an eternity spent considering the motion of angular anti-hardcore and the fluidity of callous, gate-crashing blackened dissonance. Another is a collected antithetical self in eternal internal collapse and restructure, haunted to create its own bottled lightning to match inspiring climes. Dissected across nine dimensional visions, each succinct and horrifying in their flung-forth action, Serpent Column screams and twists technicality, ease, catharsis, aberration, and transcendental knowing into a commanding 22 minute EP that cannot be remedied of its mutinous transgression of forms. This bold step into treachery and unconscionable violence is undoubtedly the first time this year that many extreme metal listeners will truly feel like their boundaries have been demolished, or weakened by fissures from all poles, even if just for a few moments.
What two halves provide for the subconscious is comfort, a set yin and yang to provide the cretaceous need for balance when relating to impossibly complex ideas. When the dam is shattered internally, by nature or trauma, and some notable love for chaotic forms becomes a representative characteristic of an artist the line between genius and madness is drawn by a hand that no longer cares for left or right, dawn or dusk, or any other confinement provided by duality. For the musician this means some guitar lines are scribbled and manic, others are lucid and round; What appeared as a mountain of chaos and impossible density on ‘Mirror of Darkness’ was not such a scribble with some intentional and devoted listening applied; The staggered and intensely layered boundary breach of Serpent Column‘s second album came with some love for the applications of mathcore and previously established intent to avoid stagnation, movement between forms to sate the artists ear rather than the frothing wallets of distended youths. Yes, none of these sonic notions might’ve expressed so freely without the eruption of records like ‘Synarchy of Molten Bones’ as some reasonably distant impetus but ‘Endless Detainment’ exists as a far-far extreme beyond avant-garde black metal and this is evident within seconds spent with its tense and unreal rhythmic focus.
More plainly (as possible…) stated, this EP features short and massively dense pieces that quite successfully combine mathcore rhythms and dissociative avant-black metal technicality into one incredibly dynamic rip of music that is distinctly Serpent Column‘s own realm. Surely Pandiscordian Necrogenesis have woven something relatable over the years and Mastery craft a similar connection between realities yet both work within their own idiosyncratic worlds, similar only for their insular self-development and distance from humanity. Noise Trail Immersion and many other lesser known bands have found post-hardcore and math metal connections to modern extreme metal that are interesting enough in the post-black morass yet ‘Endless Detainment’ speaks to an almost more tasteful and real interest in mathcore rhythms. Of course I’m not an expert in the mathy metalcore realm beyond having been engaged in the late 90’s and early 2000’s development of the niche when give the “metal” hardcore records to review so, I’ll not even bother comparing my old Coalesce records to these elements or listening to a Frontierer album for the sake of staying hip. Point being, if you’re not necessarily interested in those modern mathcore influences this record has the potential to be either infuriating or revelatory as a result of its impressively detailed chameleonic shapeshift-on-a-dime modus.
What of its musical value beyond that admirable blender of forms? It’d require far more words than I have lately to give due description in detail of why these particular performances are special as it’d require a blow-by-blow. The short version should at least focus upon the vocal performances which appear to evolve and experiment their way into more capable and expressive realities with each release; The title track in particular sounds as if at least two vocalists were involved or, at least one vocalist extended himself in some incredible ways. “Endless Detainment” is also perhaps the most ‘-core’ influenced track (maybe “Άράχναιν”?) whereas the complete mutilation that is “Manure in Pearls” embodies a particularly inspired crossing over between paradigms past and present that the two part “Wars Waged in Private” extends even further. As I’ve listened to this EP over and over countless times what strikes me isn’t so much how hard it goes into mathcore, I saw that part coming to some degree, but rather the fact that it all feels like a natural progression from ‘Ornuthia Thalassa‘ (2017) ’til today, despite each release being a massive dimensional shift beyond the last. That said, this one took several more listens despite some notions taken in relation to ‘Mirror in Darkness’. When it did finally click in my head and the momentary fog of perceived chaos lifted from ‘Endless Detainment’ it was actually an accessible and easily enjoyed piece of masterful fusion. A high recommendation with a spot among the best releases of March.
High recommendation. 4.25/5.0
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