Deicide – Serpents Of The Light

Coming off the heels of 1993’s underwhelming ‘Once Upon The Cross’, Deicide decided to enact (or more coincidentally arrive at) a change of pace. Much has been said about ‘Serpents Of The Light”s sonic properties being reflective of the popularization of black metal at the time, and considering Deicide’s undeniably commercial appeal, there’s a good chance such an influence was a conscious decision based on the trends of the time. Luckily, despite the sellout implications of such a move, ‘Serpents Of The Light’ functions as what might be the pinnacle of Deicide’s career in extreme metal.

What sets this so dramatically apart from ‘Once Upon The Cross’? Let’s take one of the most obvious issues of that release: the production. Slightly rawer and seemingly intentionally degraded (while still retaining enough fidelity to grasp the subtleties of each instrument), the sound here is anything but flat. The sound here is colorful and intensely hot and aggressive, unlike ‘Once Upon The Cross’ which was crippled by its lack of intensity. In the same regard, the performance on this album seems a great deal more passionate than that on the previous album, making the lyrics and instrumentation seem convincing instead of trite and silly. Ine one fell swoop, Deicide improved upon all the elements that made the previous LP so uneventful.

Songwriting, though in no way poor on the last LP, is greatly improved here. Despite the natural recycling of themes that Deicide does on every album, here it seems more tolerable because the themes they’re reusing are genuinely good instead of filler. Vocal rhythms in particular guilty of this: see the chorus patterns for ‘Slave To The Cross’ and ‘Blame It On God’ for reference, being essentially identicle in pace and candor. However, such things are rendered unimportant by the pure fervor of the music here. The opening title track in particular is an example of everything going right for Deicide: Driving, tremolo picked riffs with a vibrant sense of melody, powerful, lung-searing vocals emitting clever, catchy lyrics, and Steve Asheim’s brutal, speedy drumming holding it all tenuously together.

There’s a reason that songs off ‘Serpents Of The Light’ make up such a large part of a Deicide live set; these are some of the best songs that the band has ever composed. At best classics (‘Blame It On God’, ‘Serpents Of The Light’, ‘Slave to The Cross’, ‘Father Baker’s’) and at worst very good (‘This Hell We’re In’, ‘Creatures Of Habit’), there are no flaw-ridden tracks on this CD. It stands as being possibly the most consistently solid of any Deicide album that has ever been released, as it remains catchy and intelligent as well as brutal throughout. Of all the post-‘Legion’ Deicide albums, this is easily the one that you should pick up first.

‘Serpents Of The Light’ is easily one of the best the band has ever released. After one has acquired their ‘essential’ albums, this should be the next to snap up, as a pinnacle of metal, death metal, and engaging songwriting in extreme music.

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~ by noktorn on March 20, 2007.

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