Monday 7 July 2014

Serpent Venom - Of Things Seen and Unseen (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 27/6/2014
Label: The Church Within Records

Serpent Venom – “Of Things Seen and Unseen” CD track listing:

1. The Penance You Pay
2. Sorrow's Bastard
3. Death Throes at Dawn
4. The Lords Of Life
5. I Awake
6. Let Them Starve
7. Pilgrims of The Sun
8. Burning Free


The 2014 release of the album 'Of Things Seen & Unseen' marks a new beginning for Serpent Venom.

Conceived in 2008, Serpent Venom, hailing from London and Hertfordshire, brought their brand of 70's tinged, traditional heavy doom to a wide audience across the UK, receiving high praise for debut album 'Carnal Altar' and their live shows. Upon the departure of Pete Fox, Serpent Venom enlisted guitarist Roland Scriver, (Sloth, End of Level Boss) and toured hard across the British Isles and Europe. With a ferocious live presence and thunderous volume, the band continued to cement their reputation as a live act playing with the likes of Trouble, Pentagram, Conan, Black Magician, Goatess and Bast, all whilst honing the riffs for the second album.

'Of Things Seen & Unseen' was recorded at Skyhammer Studio in October 2013 with Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard, Conan, Capricorns, Taint, Coltsblood, Bast) at the helm. It is the first recording to feature guitarist Roland Scriver and marks a song writing approach that came straight out of the jam room and involved the whole band.

The CD will be out in two different version: Standard high quality 8 pages CD-Wallet + Hardcoverbook in slipcase with paintings to each song!

The Band:

Garry Ricketts | Vocals
Paul Sutherland | Drums
Roland Scriver | Lead Guitar
Nick Davies | Bass


First impressions are ones you can never undo. Good job then that London four piece Serpent Venom's “Of Things Seen and Unseen” starts with a crackling, bass heavy riff so fuzzy you can feel hairs growing out of your speakers. It's a riff and indeed a band on the whole that have emerged from the bong water of Sabbath Worship. This is a band more content with smoking the wheel rather than reinventing it and whoever said that was a bad thing?

Yet, with the sheer density of bands over the years founding their musical philosophies upon the 'tune low, play slow' mantra - something that has only intensified with the arrival of the internet - it takes more than a good riff or two to stand out from the pack. There is something soulful and relatable about this band. They've left the entire Sludgelord team rapt in their hazy atmospherics. Atmospherics I might add, that conjure up visions of stoners in a smoky bedroom, posters of Sabbath, Cream and Zeppelin masking the wall.

Stoner rock has never been about egos and image. Stoner rock is music by stoners, for stoners and that's it. Just your average Joes playing above average music.

Pummelling you with a droning bombast on “The Penance You Pay” and tripping you out with discordant, messy but deeply impassioned solos on “Death Throes at Dawn” - where the imperfections are indeed the perfections - the early movements on the album set the tone, set the enthralled fixation.

Garry Ricketts' vocals veer away from the aggression many of their counterparts tend to opt for. Instead, the soul and delicacy in his voice floats in the mix like a Sycamore Seed in an autumnal wind. These are songs sung with conviction and meaning and is exactly why this band has found the Sludgelord so enamoured with them. Think heartfelt, silky tones of Cream and Graveyard.

With Chris Fielding taking production duties, a man whose back catalogue includes work with Electric Wizard and Conan, their overall sound is absolutely spot on. Smokey yet smooth, it gives the songs a tremendous impetuous that sees them reach the next level.

“I Awake”, although brief, sees the band baring their soul through nothing but acoustic guitars. Stripped back and raw you feel you can see into the very core of this band's slowly beating heart.

But the pace doesn't always reverberate at a funeral march. The powerful “Let Them Starve” for instance - which sees Ricketts at his best - bursts into life for the final stages, dragging you along for the ride.

Closing on the two longest tracks in “Pilgrims of the Sun” (9:23) and “Burning Free” (7:45), they have you utterly transfixed. 2Of Things Unseen…” is most definitely not an album that withers and fades in the final chapters. Rather, it crescendos in devastating fashion.

Within their gargling grooves and ear wrenching noise (in the best possible way), they have you cut out from the rest of the world. Listening to this record is a spell-binding experience as every good stoner album should be. But it is so much more than another album to spark a joint to. It has, aptly, a snake like charm: vicious and deadly, but when their venomous tones flow through your veins you can’t help but crack a smile.  

Words: Phil Weller

You can get it here