Serpent’s Curse by Heads For The Dead

Horror. Death. Metal. In case anyone was wondering how too rather effortlessly abduct me, just spray paint that shit on the side of a clunky white van. And it doesn’t even have to be free. I’m in. OR, for a (somewhat) less dark metaphor, just throw that shit right under the “genre” category of your band and I’m first in line to buy your record and the last one to leave. I promise. Complete with artwork and imagery reminiscent of grimy 70’s exploitation and/or demonic pulp horror slices of cinema; it doesn’t get much more intriguing for said self-proclaimed death metal aficionado, horror scholar, and simply sick motherfucker like myself. The only question left on bloody knees begging to be answered is, and the only one that necessarily matters, is, does Heads For The Dead generate strong enough music on their debut record to support the monumental excitement stirred in me (and hopefully countless death metal and horror fans alike) and live up to the ever strangling hands of hype? … LOL.

Transcending Obscurity Records have done it again with yet another horrific expression of extreme metal with the release of Serpent’s Curse, that will undoubtedly be a contender for metal record of the year. Just going to set the proverbial record straight with that right from the punch. SO. If you perhaps THOUGHT that Death Comes Lifting may have suddenly changed its ways of thinking and feeling on the subject of death metal, and were perhaps expecting a negative and critical review of yet another old school inspired death metal record in an oversaturated market… LOL. Think again. Not this time, anyway. But, probably not ever. As long as killer bands such as Heads For The Dead exist and produce phenomenal exercises in sonic metal chaos, I shall be here headbanging and deadlifting myself to death, thank you very much. And I’m not so sure I’d want it any other way.

From the opening 70’s horror soundtrack vibes and haunted orchestra strings of the atmospheric title track to the final echoes of the crippling conclusion of In Darkness You Feel No Regrets, Serpent’s Curse by Heads For The Dead is nothing but a pure horrific death metal greatness. The aspect that sets this record apart from the armies of extreme metal records heard this year, and just about any other year, for that matter, is their musical diversity and somewhat experimental instrumentation. The intriguing use of the guitar, for example, goes a long way into inducing a certain headspace that would be created by the era of horror movies they are emulating. There is certainly more than enough relentless low end chugging and bone-rattling power chords (it wouldn’t be death metal without it), but more often than not, the riffs are slow(ish), haunting, and groovy. Solid examples of this would be found on tracks such as Deep Below, where the guitar just seems to lurk in the background, inducing fear. The solo becomes a creepy melody that would serve as a soundtrack to a proper sacrifice. Set against the threatening and thunderous vocals and devastating drumming, it provides an eerie contrast that makes the song that much more… well, scary. But also great. Tracks such as The Awakening and Gatecreeper also employ this atmospheric technique, and it seems to be just getting better. Compiled with the use of samples, droning echoes, howls, screams, screeches, and all the ingredients for a good ‘ol fashioned satanic halloween party; this makes Serpent’s Curse a record to be reckoned with. In fact, I could easily see this record achieving “cult status” in the not too distant future, making it the perfect vinyl to blow the dust off of on a spooky autumn night. Light a few candles.. hang a few skulls.. What could go wrong?

That’s not to say that Heads For The Dead is some pretentious, artsy-fartsy band trying to do death metal, far from that. Members of the bands are actually quite deeply rooted in the European extreme metal world. In fact, Heads For The Dead could be considered the ever damning term of “supergroup”, a term I hate using because it never goes how it sounds like it should. But this does. Perhaps, they are the best supergroup of all time… for my money. At least in the death metal world. Featuring the demonic vocals and lyrics of Revel in Flesh’s Ralph Hauber and all other music and production (!!) from Jonny Patterson of Wombbath & Ursinne, and guest guitar and drums from additional members of the aforementioned bands as well as Sentient Horror and Down Among Dead Men… this truly makes Heads For The Dead’s debut record a recipe for disaster. And I don’t think a disaster ever sounded so goddamn cool. Aside from the horror soundtrack and dark atmosphere set by the interesting sounds of the record, there is also plenty on here that is simply classic, ripping, death metal. Songs such as Death Calls and Post Mortem Suffering are barley a minute long and sound like Napalm Death meets Goatwhore. Other tunes such as Of Wrath and Vengeance and Heads For the Dead are a little more expanded arrangements of torture where all aspects on the band sound like they are on an unquenchable hunt for blood. All this stirred in witches brew together concoct the Serpent’s Curse, an extremely intriguing and frightening piece of music that I (or any true appreciator of the extremes metal cuisine) will not soon forget… and will guaranteed to be continuing spring through the witching hours of the Halloween season. Do not overlook this one.

Rating: 5/5

Gym Rating: 6/6 (BRING IT)

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