Saturday, July 20, 2013

Serpent Crown-Serpent Crown

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Serpent Crown  is a power trio that hails from the mean streets of San Francisco. OK, San Fransisco probably doesn't have mean streets, but you do have to wonder about that when you're faced with the hardcore-tinged, doom-drenched, punk thrash that is Serpent Crown. Formed in 2008, and featuring the mad skills of guitarist/vocalist Dara Santhai (who is frighteningly forceful in her vocal delivery!), Serpent Crown first released a 3-track demo in 2009 (Black Cobra drummer Rafa Martinez not only recorded the demo for the group, but he also played bass on it!) before hitting everyone smack dab in the face (at full-force no less!) with this 6-track release! As it's only a little over 1 month old (it was released back at the start of last month) it's just now picking up steam and should continue to thanks to word of mouth and reviews like this. For the time being it's good to be on the inside track as I can totally picture Serpent Crown making waves with this dead-serious slab of abusive thrash metal. If nothing else, and for some ungodly reason this band doesn't break out like they rightly should, at least there's comfort to be had in the knowledge that this EP is in your hands and blaring in your ears! With that said let's turn back around and look at the meat of the matter. The multi-talented Dara Santhai (who has also had stints fronting the groups Ravana and Santhai) was born in Manila and, besides kicking ass as a front-woman, she has a background in the fine arts. That's rather impressive all around. That's especially true when you consider that without question it's her skills on both the mic and guitar that are the main focus of Serpent Crown as well as it's chief selling point. It's not that the rest of Serpent Crown, who are listed below, are incapable of holding their own as they are much more then a talented bunch of musicians. It's simply that Dara is what you notice first and what you notice most often. She's the highlight of this EP which conjures up images of everyone/everything from the Bay Area thrash scene of old (as well as 80's thrash metal in general) to miscellaneous acts like Carnivore, Prong, Cycle Sluts From Hell, Gwar, S.O.D./M.O.D., The Crumbsuckers (their first LP), Excel, Pro-Pain, Eyehategod, The Melvins, The Plasmatics and early Cryptic Slaughter. So, while female-fronted heavy metal outfits are cropping up like weeds these days, which is good for those of us who appreciate fine-crafted heavy metal, but bad when you consider that some of these new acts come across as more of quirky novelty then a legit band, it's rare to find one that channels everything from old-school punk and hardcore to Bay Area thrash and comes whipping across the landscape like a gale force wind! This self-titled debut EP, which features drummer Will Carroll (Death Angel, Warning S.F., Old Grandad, Cutthroats 9, Scarecrow, Warfare D.C., Vicious Rumors and Machine Head), offers the listener first-rate metal without sacrificing any of it's raw appeal. Bassist Dave Dinsmore (formerly of Bl'ast, LAB, Che and Unida) rounds out the party here and his heavy-handed playing only adds to suffocating feeling that Serpent Crown invokes. While the band has seen some shake ups since the release of this EP (drummer Will Carroll had to leave due to his commitment as the touring drummer for  Death Angel) they still plan to hit the road in support of this 6-track EP of extreme brutality. Future shows will first feature the skills of drummer Mike Jochimsen (Apocryphon) so fans should have no reason to worry a out catching this group live and in blood-red color! That is to say that one would have to assume that in a live setting Serpent Crown  just slays everything in it's path given how uncharacteristically dark and deranged this EP is! If there's one downside I can picture some people having with this group and this EP it's that everything comes across as fuzzed-out and blurry. In that way Serpent Crown almost invokes the spirits of  thousands of stoner rock/doom rock bands. Whether it's the production that stands to blame or that's just how Serpent Crown rolls who can say. Since it only adds to the overall appeal of the EP for me it's not something that I would dock points for, but on the other hand I could imagine some folks turning up their noses at this EP because it's too "raw". That comes down to personal preference I suppose, but I still strongly recommend this 6-track release to those of you that love street metal as well as all things crossover.

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