Friday, November 11, 2011

Vomiting Skulls - Serpents Kill Slowly DEMO (2011)

The Serpents Kill Slowly demo seeks little more than to flesh out the simple but effective currents of black metal clobber that defined the original Vomiting Skulls release, but there is a significant difference which separates the two: the vocals. The original front man Tuomas Herrala had this appreciable, carnal growl as if he'd been recently separated from his wolf pack, but the replacement Teemu Virtanen has a style redolent of Chuck Schuldiner. Louder, hoarser and more full bodied than what you would remember from the old Death records, but the cut of jib is rather similar (though Virtanen also does a deeper bark from time to time). Thus, the voice tends to stand out a more from the music behind it, something that I don't consider too much of a strength here.

Otherwise, the content is quite a similar blend of largely black metal aesthetics with some traces of death metal and even some heavy or thrash metal in the opening title track. Like the first release (and this is How to Draft a Demo 101, people), the band immediately unleashes one of the more exciting riffs up front, giving the listener a reason to continue, and I quite enjoyed it. I kept getting the feeling that this was some spiritual death/black successor to Judas Priest's seminal "Painkiller", though I can't quite point out why. Some phantom of recollection hidden in the note selection. The bridge sequence revisits that whole 'war metal' feel I got from the earlier demo, slower and churning but seasoned with some cleaner guitars. This continues through the rush of "Euthanise the Disgraced", spikes of melodic black metal joined to a barrel roll of bombastic tremolo and a ballistic thrashing breakdown near the finale. "Shrine of Havoc" features some darker twists of death metal, and "Warcry" even brings out some full-bore growling amidst the steady step of the guitars.

I liked the plunking distortion of the bass on this last song, and there is definitely a battlefield element to the pacing that feels like a straight march into the face of the enemy. In summation, I'd place this all somewhere below the previous demo on the scale of quality. The production is still polished, honest and professional. The guitar riffs are just about as strong as on the first one, yet Serpents Kill Slowly once again lacks a few distinguishable lead sequences. Not that such things are mandatory for the genre, but I'd love to hear some; they'd really dress up the bluntness of the riffs. Go for broke and wail away. Also, I just didn't enjoy the vocals as much this time around. This guy's not bad for his style, but I felt like the lower growls just matched the backing guitars a lot better (even where they appear on this demo). Vomiting Skulls are still pretty well rounded, and never bite off more than they can (or should) chew, but some further gestation is required.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]

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