In The Company Of Serpents - Lux

When one thinks of stoner doom or sludge metal they expect thick, grating vocals with epic tracks and a thick, reverb of sound with a very basic tones of guitar, bass, vocals, and drums. Every once in a while though a band comes along and breaks up the stereotypical expectations. In The Company Of Serpents have been around for some time since 2011 with a few albums under their belt. Hailing from Colorado, these guys take elements like Neurosis, Times Of Grace, and Mastadon and blend it altogether, giving fans of the stoner/ doom genre what they want but with a twist. The opening ‘The Fool’s Journey’ is pretty basic stoner doom with heavy, drawn out riffs, and 10 minute clock time, and a ton of groove that is still head bangable but not quite enough to mosh to. Very basic, very expected, it definitely sounds like older Mastadon without the progressive elements. Thankfully “Lux” relies more on groove than reverb, showcasing a bit more guitar talent with the drums and vocals, even though for about five minutes it feels like the same riffs are played over and over. Then again, so do a lot of Opeth songs and everyone seems to love them. ‘Scales Of Maat’ amps up the heaviness a bit focusing more on the sludge tones that drag along with post metal pace, letting the guitars take focus over the drums. There isn’t much to be said for variation here, but the hypnotic quality of the track will keep fans grounded. The sheer ferocity of the vocals though when they do hit sounds almost more death metal like than doom or stoner.

‘Daybreak’ is where In The Company Of Serpents really show how they stand from the rest. Completely shifting gears with the brief instrumental ‘Daybreak’ all the heaviness is gone and traded for rather peaceful acoustic guitars. While it feels like it should have been more of an instrumental track, the southern overtones bring a whole new light to the depth of what the group can do. ‘The Chasm At The Mouth Of It All’ mixes stoner with groove metal, feeling like Neurosis meets the softer side of Times Of Grace and it just sounds like the highlight of the album compared to all the other tracks. The clean vocals are a nice touch that don’t sound as grating and may come a surprise to most listeners who expect all stoner doom to be grim and thick, so reactions can be compared to the likes of when a group like Glorior Belli released ‘The Great Southern Darkness’ with its bluesy southern tones. People will love it or hate but overall In The Company Of Serpents should be appreciated for ‘shaking things up.’ For those who want just thick reverbed groove the band falls back into their earlier ways with tracks like ‘Lightchild’ and ‘Archonic Manipulation’ which are slow, chuggy riffs and bellowed vocals again, touching again on a more typical stoner doom tone.

Things take a more romantic turn with the mournful violin and guitar on ‘Nightfall’ which sets things up for ‘Prima Materia’ which is an excellent closer (even though it feels a bit too brief of an instrumental). ‘Prima Materia’ though takes that acoustic guitar sound and enhances it with the overall scope of what In The Company Of Serpents has done so far. Sounding more like Primordial versus typical stoner doom, this ‘heathen metal’ touch brings back another track to stand out. The drums are thicker, more percussive and not as drenched by the reverb of the guitars, and overall this cleaner sound is very hypnotic and calming, much more than the raging tempest of a track like ‘Scales Of Maat.’

Not typical stoner doom again, but those looking for out of the ordinary will appreciate the calm close to the album. In short, the more cleaner tracks will certainly appeal to a lot of doom/ stoner metal fans simply because it sounds different. For those who are used to the likes of Gloomy Sunday, Grown Below, (earlier) Mastadon or other stoner doom/ post metal groups that use loud, but slow passages, this might tend to roll off as a dime a dozen with most of the tracks on “Lux.” However, these guys have something going for them with their more eleclectic tracks, and hopefully will showcase more of it on future albums. In The Company Of Serpents is definitely worth checking out for those who want hazy music but with a few surprises here and there.

3.5 / 5 STARS

1. The Fool’s Journey
2. Scales of Maat
3. Daybreak
4. The Chasm at the Mouth of it All
5. Lightchild
6. Archonic Manipulations
7. Nightfall
8. Prima Materia