Serpentine Path – Serpentine Path (Relapse Records)

Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

For reasons that hover around peculiar and head-scratching, there’s still this sort of mystical allure to all things Electric Wizard-related. That’s what you get when plenty of underground minions still fawn over one of your albums (Dopethrone), so it basically enables the creation haphazard side bands like Serpentine Path, who feature in the ranks ex-Wizard bassist Tim Bagshaw. Combine Bagshaw’s knowledge of smoldering and slow-mo doom with three ex-members of similar doomsters Unearthly Trance, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out how this one is going to sound.

On their eight-song self-titled debut, Serpentine Path eschew the predominant Electric Wizard approach, meaning there’s a dearth of cloudy and fuzzed Iommi riffs. Instead, SP plugs along with low-tuned riffs and the bellowing vocals of Ryan Lipynsky, making this the kind of plodding, uninteresting album that extreme Master of Reality heads flock to almost at will. Heck, this stuff is so simple, like “Crotalus Horridus Horridus,” which basically sees the band dotter on one chord that has hardly any flexibility…it’s like hitting a rubber band on a tennis racket.

Particularly barren and grimy chugs come to embody cuts such as “Bats Amongst Heathens” and the extraordinarily slow “Beyond the Dawn of Time,” which would pass for a funeral doom dirge if we didn’t know any better. The only real sparks of excitement come on “Obsoletion,” where Bagshaw’s lead guitar bursts provide some relief from the relentless stream of snail-like riffs and nonexistent tempo thrusts.

Apparently, it’s now become suitable to brow-beat people with the sort of uninteresting, lollygagging doom that Serpentine Path plays. There redeeming qualities are few and far between, obviously, but yet if one has to wonder if watching grass grow is more exciting than Serpentine Path, then you’re in the wrong boat.

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