Liber Null – I, The Serpent (Osmose Productions)

Sunday, 18th December 2016
Rating: 7/10

Gionata Potenti, otherwise known as Blut Aus Nord drummer Thorns mans the kit in Liber Null. Perhaps he was looking for a more simplistic avenue than the awe-inspiring, celebrated sounds of his main band (new album, please? Okay?), because Liber Null is a cut right off the straight-ahead black/death block. The band’s I, The Serpent debut accordingly reflects the flammable nature of extreme metal with its various blast-beat send-offs (Thorns is off the rails here) and brutalized riffing; however, the lack of heated dynamics that often turn the wheel for Behemoth and Marduk are a bit scattershot.

After a somewhat lengthy spoken word intro on “The Unrepenting Son” (most bands split these things up to make it look like there’s more songs on the album), Liber Null are off to the proverbial races, working with the long-perfected array of buzzing chord movements and weaving melodies. “Below and Beyond” offers some variance, utilizing crunchy, if not staccato guitars in the frame of a groove, while the dissonant sprawl of “Dereliction” fails to make any headway, even with its swampy acoustic guitar breaks. Elsewhere, the gentle, opening melodic tide found on “Unholy Cosmogony” is immediately cast to the side by a drum blitzkrieg from Thorns, only for it to tail off into meandering territory.

Even though Liber Null doesn’t quite fall prey to predictability or many of the clichés embedded within demonic black/death metal, I, The Serpent never quite straightens itself to make a full go at things. Thorns’s intimidating drum work aside, Liber Null are simply an unrealized product.

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