by Nikita Alekseyevich Khrenov
Everything is cyclical. Eventually trends that died out long ago return for a time; whether it is fashion, music, art, one way or another things come back around. Right now, we’re experiencing quite an old school death metal revival, with bands churning out raw, disgusting and heavy death metal reminiscent of the luminaries of the 90s, and with that comes one-man Canadian project Dungeon Serpent. Setting out with a mission to bring classic melodic death metal, and they manage to nail it right on the head.
World of Sorrows(self-released July 16, 2021) kicks off by breaking your teeth with “Necroscope.” Hammering skank beats and raw, scratchy detuned riffage comes at you in full force, with barking roars assaulting the ear drums. From the first minute alone, this record would fit right in with the likes of Obituary and Morbid Angel but as one continues to listen, the ferocity is dialed back to bring a hooky melody with oodles of groove. All of a sudden, the music hops on the first flight into Gothenburg and harmony is king. The intensity and raw power are still there but now, like a chef adding garlic and spices, we sprinkle melodic sensibilities and a soulful solo to bring this course to a close.
The second track “Decay” leans into brutal death metal territory with plentiful blast beats and shredding with a subdued melodic influence. While the guitars are out in the forefront during the melodic passages, they tend to muddy together during the heavier, thrashy bits. “Immortal Incubation” goes full force into early At The Gates territory with plenty of delicious harmonic movements to salivate over, even venturing into doom territory.
The final two songs: “Cosmic Sorcery” and the title track “World of Sorrows” are exercises in masterful songwriting. Elegant riffage, melodies that burrow deep into your brain, and the delightful addition of clean guitars and piano is pure bliss. Nothing incredibly technical or revolutionary, just good old fashioned hooking riffs and melodies.
The only gripes with this record are that it’s too darn short, at a tidy 30 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome, yet it feels like there could be so much more. The other thing is that the production may be too raw for some modern listeners. If this record was super polished it would detract from the feel and ambience of the music, yet it would benefit with a bit of a cleanup to just really let the songwriting shine. Dungeon Serpent comes onto the scene with a fury, with World of Sorrows poising itself as a major album of the year contender, the excitement for a follow-up is already implanted.
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