Serpent Sermon comes after three years and is a big comeback, a very convincing album, studied in detail and, like its predecessor Wormwood, is mainly based on power and speed: except for “Temple of Decay”, slower and rhythmic, almost all of the rest of the album is really fast. Needless to say that the production is top-notch: the sound and the mixing are worthy of a very experienced band and above all of one that has a high budget. But the technical level of the musicians is high too, as is evident both from the not simple structure of the songs, and from the composition of the riffs that are sometimes convoluted but often biting like the fangs of a tiger.
The riffs and the rhythm section of drummer Lars Broddesson make the songs truly spectacular and engaging. Just think of the title track “Serpent Sermon” which begins with a riff consisting of a quite articulated sequence of bichords and it is impossible not to be fascinated. The album is fast from the beginning to the end; another beautiful song is “M.A.M.M.O.N.” which includes an amazing section with an arpeggiated riff. Very nice is also the final track “World of Blades”, which is a bonus track available in a limited edition. At the same time one cannot help noticing that all this speed lacks depth, it seems a bit superficial, an end in itself, in some cases repetitive: you have the feeling that Marduk in some cases reshuffles the same riffs, for example the opening riff of “Damnation’s Gold” is very similar (if not identical) to a riff at the beginning of “Souls for Belial”. It is nevertheless undeniable that Morgan produces riffs in industrial quantities and shows a big amount of creativity. The singing of Mortuus is really evil, and his voice is as sharp as the blade of a knife; the drumming by Lars is essential but effective.
The lyrics show a continuous subversion of values and pay homage to different counter values, such as lie and decay, as in “Temple of Decay”; even the seemingly real values appear contaminated and everything becomes damnation, as we read in “M.A.M.M.O.N.”: “Molten vanity / Avaricious glory / pride moldering / Measuring maggots / Overflowing with golden guilt / Narrow is the path out of damnation”. Marduk teaches us this doctrine with repent sermons or gospels, such as “Serpent Sermon” and “Gospel of the Worm”. Interesting in this regard is the text of “Gospel of the Worm”, that puts us in the face of the truth that there is only death, no hope, no salvation. No coincidence that the texts mention Mastema and Belial, the two angels who rebelled against God. The blasphemous version of Christian prayer Hail Mary, or Ave Maria, in “Hail Mary (Piss-soaked Genuflexion)” is very fun.
Serpent Sermon is perhaps not on a level with a masterpiece like Opus Nocturne, milestone and historic album of the 90s, but it is a beautiful album, I think much more better than Wormwood, and the song “Serpent Sermon” is a real masterpiece.
Serpent Sermon was released on May 25th, 2012 through Century Media Records.
1. “Serpent Sermon” 04:38
2. “Messianic Pestilence” 02:50
3. “Souls for Belial” 04:47
4. “Into Second Death” 05:11
5. “Temple of Decay” 05:25
6. “Damnation's Gold” 06:48
7. “Hail Mary (Piss-soaked Genuflexion)” 03:27
8. “M.A.M.M.O.N.” 03:30
9. “Gospel of the Worm” 02:37
10. “World of Blades” 07:09
Morgan - guitars
Devo - bass
Mortuus - vocals
Lars - drums