By Nathanas Trismegistus

Serpent Noir – Death Clan OD; released February 2, 2020 by World Terror Committee. As I’ve mentioned many times before, you can expect two things from any W. T. C. release: that it is occult black metal (or an Absurd or G. B. K. rerelease, seriously, how do they get away with that living in Germany?) and that it will be excruciatingly difficult, or will take an exorbitant amount of time, to obtain a copy in the U. S.

I’m not really sure what the “OD” in the title is supposed to represent. Perhaps “Ordo Diaboli”? I don’t know. Regardless, Serpent Noir is a trio hailing from Athens, the resplendent capital of Greece. Though, not of the spiritual successors to classic Hellenic black metal (e.g., the previously-recognized on this glorified blog, Empire of the Moon). Like their fellow Athenians, Acherontas and Acrimonious (both great bands I suggest you check out immediately), Serpent Noir create music more analogous to the Swedish and, more modern, Greek occult scene than the likes of Necromantia or Rotting Christ. But, they’re far from your typical occult black metal. Their approach is, in a word, lateral. Though their music is full of arpeggiated, dissonant chords; trem-picked, Phrygian melodies; somber, Apollonian leads; and aggressive double blast beats—the way they implement these components is incredibly fascinating, unique, and creative. Their lyrical content is also subject for an entirely different conversation.

Personally, I thought the opener was a waste of effort. A very simple “anti-melody” played over a broken suspended chord. Track 2, “Cutting the Umbilical Cord of Hel”, however, is really where the album kicks off into volcanic fury. Track 3 has a nice, classic feel towards the beginning, which gradually devolves into a sinister, serpentine Gordian knot of complexity. Track 4, “Asmodeus: The Sword of Golachab”, while an interesting name and subject matter, I thought it was the weakest track. It has a strange break close to the end which stopped the momentum (of the song, not the album) dead in its tracks. Unfortunate. Track 5, “Astaroth: The Jaws of Gha’Agsheblah”, has an inimitably creepy tone which one must behold to believe. Track 6, “Necrobiological Chant of Talas”, also had an interesting tone and phenomenal leadwork. The final track, “GOEH RA REAH: Garm Unchained” is probably the best, most varied song on the album; though, I think track 6 is my favorite. It got its very own, insane music video which gave me some serious O9A vibes. The album is decidedly brisk, but not so short that you’ll feel like you’ve been robbed of the $12 street price. I thought it was very well paced except, maybe, the aforementioned track 4.

I don’t want to get hung up on production quality, so I’ll only say, briefly, that it sounded fine, if not – at times – a bit shallow, thin, and dry (at least on the digital, Bandcamp format I heard). Everything sounded good and was clear and audible, so no real complaints.

This album is the music of the sacrificial blood slowly filling the channels of an altar of impossible geometrical parameters. I’ll just have to add this to the copious backlog of good W. T. C. releases that I have yet to obtain. I had listened to their previous album, Erotomysticism (2015) and I’m pretty sure I caught a track or two off their 2012 debut. From what I can remember, I did like them, but not enough to buy them. Death Clan OD, on the other hand, I will definitely buy when I see it hit U. S. record stores. I’m not so enthusiastic about this album that I would go straight ahead and order a copy and have it imported straight from Germany.  It’s better than average occult black metal. Though that may seem like faint praise, Serpent Noir indelibly stand with their heads high above a sea of monotony. I still, nevertheless, think Acherontas remains as the exemplar for this sub-sub-genre (and Greece’s contribution to it). I would recommend it, purely for its originality, to anyone; but, perhaps, wouldn’t deem it essential to anyone save the rabid hordes of occult black metal.

Listen, buy here:

By Nathanas Trismegistus

Empire of the Moon – “Έκλειψις” (translated as “Eclipse”); released January 10, 2019 by Iron Bonehead Productions. I mean, did you really expect anyone else? Not even two weeks into the year and Iron Bonehead has published two albums on the same day (incidentally, both from Greek bands). I’m not a big Kawir fan, so I decided to forego reviewing their latest release in favor of the more obscure Empire of the Moon’s.

Empire of the Moon is a real throwback, in the best way possible, to classic Hellenic black metal bands like Varathron and Necromantia. They released a single, two-track demo, all the way back in 1997. And, for seventeen years, this band lied dormant. Producing absolutely nothing in the way of musical material. After this protracted stint of, no doubt, pensive silence, they unleashed a debut album, in 2014, which I don’t think anyone really even listened to (because I never hear anyone talk about it). It was really good, though. And if you haven’t listened to it, then I don’t know what you’re waiting for. An invitation? With this new album, Empire of the Moon continue the trend – started with “Πανσέληνος” (translated as “Full Moon”) – of naming their albums after lunar phenomena. It also functions as a proper successor and complement to the musical themes and styles set up thereby.

The vocals are shrill and acute, barring any chanted or dictated passages. Despite being a Greek band, and their album titles being in Greek, the song titles and lyrics themselves are in English and Latin—for some reason. Though the lyrics are of an esoteric nature, they are not an occult black metal band like Acherontas or Akrotheism. The riff-craft and composition are mid-paced, but sufficiently aggressive. Melody is present, but simple and interspliced or interplayed with beefy, chuggy rhythm. There is a sort of rocky feel throughout this album – especially in track 4 – which reminds me a lot of Dissection’s “Reinkaos”. Unlike the vast majority of black metal bands of the Scandinavian persuasion, Greek bands (and Empire of the Moon by extension) aren’t afraid to indulge in a little bit of lavish lead work and glib, genial guitar tone. There are some occasional symphonic and choral elements (which, if you’re familiar at all with my work, you know I generally find such elements to be annoying) scattered throughout, but they’re so infrequent and unobtrusive that they’re perfectly tolerable. If I had to think of an analogy to encapsulate Empire of the Moon’s musical style, I would describe it as a trance-like, euphoric, continuously rhythmic curbstomp against the steps of the Parthenon at dusk.

“Έκλειψις” is a black, hedonistic orgy of blasphemy, blood witchery, and murder. It starts strong and ends even stronger. Sink into some ambrosia or baklava, queue it up directly after “Πανσέληνος”, and let your spirit disembark on an 80-minute, noumenal odyssey through the underworld along the rapids of the river Phlegethon. Highly recommended. Essential for the true disciple of classic Hellenic black metal.