Serpent Ascending - Ananku [I, Voidhanger - 2016]Cult Finnish death metaller Jarno Nurmi's Serpent Ascending returns with Ananku, it's follow up to 2011's The Enigma Unsettled. Once again on I, Voidhanger, Serpent Ascending brings satanic, old school death metal to a willing audience. Grim and chock full of buzzsaws, Ananku may not summon any demons, but it will surely summon up good memories of death metal days gone by.
Death metal has certainly changed over the years, and this has caused a trend to revisit classic sounds. This is natural, it would seem, as music shifts further from the structures and tones that opened one's eyes to it, a longing for that old vibe arises. Serpent Ascending's Ananku captures this old school essence and presents it in a pretty unaltered format. With modern death metal songs increasing in length, the draw to extend tracks is powerful, but Serpent Ascending remains strong. With 8 songs at just a hair over 30 minutes, each track has enough time to do its thing, but not too much so that it loses its message. This is done very simply, but very well. That's not to say that the music is simple, but rather that its straight forward, no frills approach is an efficient way to capture the old school death metal vibe. Buzzsaw guitars break into dizzying, tangled choruses and add a hazy, mystical air to each song. Mid-paced toms pummel along while clean, crisp, quick double bass blasts propel Ananku forward. Adding to the grim mix is the evil, throaty growl of the vocals. Summoning images of rituals and sacrifices, the hoarse screams bring the gloomy death to completion.
Serpent Ascending's second release on I, Voidhanger is a short, but very welcome stab at rekindling the old school death aesthetic. Well written and not overreaching, Ananku plays to its strengths and sticks comfortably to classic inspiration. Plus, being only a half an hour long, it can easily be spun twice in a row for maximum effect.Paul Casey