20 Apr 2015
Holy Serpent "S/T"
Reviewed by Joseph Murphy
Melbourne's Holy Serpent joins the international ranks of a burgeoning stoner-psych scene with their gritty five-song self-titled debut scheduled for release this May from the always reliable Riding Easy Records. The four piece – formed only in 2014 – takes their cue from bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and Witchcraft and wield dueling, fuzzy guitars like seasoned diviners. With all the necessary doom boxes checked, Holy Serpent’s debut is a promising introduction packed with dissonant guitar leads, sludgy riffs, spacey vocals, and a confidently heavy rhythm section.
The riff and wavering vocals of "Shroom Doom" are laden with menacing doom, so much so that by the time the guitar lead breaks through, its off-kilter feel makes sense. Somehow, this song spirals into a catchy chorus that, from the start of things, wouldn’t have seemed possible.
Standout track, "Fool's Gold", opens up a bit more and brims with stoner-rock ambience, revealing the band’s skill for complete sonic control. Sure, they can do heavy, but they can also build a wild, slow jam that naturally rises and falls and blurs the line between modern and a few decades past.
This is heavy, doom rock that comes with enough psychedelic elements to feel like it’s from another far-out-there planet beyond the asteroid belt. There’s no jangly neo-surf rock or motorik beats; this record was born from a love for heaviness and maybe a little bit of healthy nostalgia. (Promotional material lists a love for weed and skate parks in the palette as well.) The aesthetics of the garage reign here. Like, for certain listeners, Sleep’s "Dopesmoker" is made for long car rides (or pretty much any occasion), Holy Serpent’s debut is made for multiple listens and getting a bit lost each time.
Holy Serpent’s debut is available digitally from their Bandcamp page and on vinyl or CD from RidingEasy Records.