A lot of albums are not meant to be spun just once then shelved for however long until listened to again. With Serpents Lair and their debut album Circumambulating the Stillborn, it is one that falls under that category. Not only does the music take a couple of listens to fully digest and understand, Circumambulating the Stillborn is an album that forces you to listen over and over again. The album is a long one and keeping the attention of an audience for an extended period of time can be quite the task, but when listening to Serpents Lair, it never feels like a chore to go through the entire album.
In fact, Serpents Lair is captivating. There is something about them that is mysterious and ominous. They know how to keep you interested and not waver or lose focus on the music. Serpents Lair ends up keeping your attention because of all of the different elements and variation that you hear within their seven songs.
Never once does it seem like you are listening to the same song, and within the black metal genre you can feel as though you’ve heard the same song one thousand times even if you haven’t. On Circumambulating the Stillborn, Serpents Lair do great things like change tempo frequently, and provide a very eerie and haunting atmosphere.
Unlike typical black metal, Serpents Lair doesn’t blast your brains out of your cranium with flailing drums and bombastic riffs. Circumambulating the Stillborn has its fair share of slower tempo arrangements which provide that chilling atmosphere. They do a great job of intertwining the blasting, skin scorching moments with the more atmospheric melodic moments, never letting one overshadow the other.
Circumambulating the Stillborn begins with wonderfully haunting singing that quickly melts into a sonic and blasting song titled Epistemology of Death. Through the entire seven track album, Serpents Lair transitions between and onslaught of neck snapping metal, and slow perilous passages. The album is dark and brooding in places that it needs to be, but fiery and destructive in others. The melodies dance like blackened hell fire and the vocalist displays a very wide range of vocal arrangements. Riffs pour over you like a sickening wave of disease as the drums pound away at your sanity. The vocalist shrieks, yells, and devilishly growls his way through five of the seven tracks (Dwelling on the Threshold to Tartarus is an instrumental).
Serpents Lair offers up a lot of variation and a whole hell of a lot of meaty and soul damming black metal with their debut. No two songs sound the same, the riffs differ and vary from song to song, the song structures are all different and the balance between torturous limb snapping black metal and the more melodious moments makes for a dark and intriguing listen. Throughout the album, Serpents Lair is able to keep your attention and draw you deeper into their nefarious ways. I wouldn’t sleep on this record for too long as it makes a great addition to any collection.