Returning as a trio with a new studio album after three years, In The Company Of Serpents releases their most comprehensively sophisticated album to date.
In The Company Of Serpents has been creating weighty dark music for nearly a decade under this name. Grant Netzorg (guitars and vocals), J.P. Damron (drums), and Ben Pitts (bass) offer a doom varietal with Lux, their first album in the new decade. Each release in the band’s canon has had a different energy and style, variant vocalizations, and a unique reality. “Dirtnap” from their first album, In The Company Of Serpents (2012) is almost like grunge, with big, crunchy riffs and vocalizations that channel Lemmy. It’s a great song with a killer lead break that kicks in at the four minute mark. “Craven” from Of The Flock (2013) starts out like hardcore punk and the guitars as massively distorted. Merging In Light, their EP from 2014, is very doomy throughout, while the most recent release from the band prior to the new one, 2017’s Ain-Soph Aur, has shifting moods and big, sprawling compositions with vocals that often seem tortured in the depth of their evocation.
Lux is a clear continuation of the sophistication of Ain-Soph Aur and at the same time often has the vibe of at least an homage to In The Company Of Serpents. The album opens bold with a ten-minute epic, “The Fool’s Journey.” After an elegant echoey beginning, fuzzy riffs and stern vocals take over. The lyrics are not cheerful, and the music is loaded with trepidation and warning. If we had to call this song something, we could call it doom, but it takes a sharp fast turn toward the end that listens like falling. “Scales of Maat” is next and it has an Alice In Chains kind of opening riff, except that it is much more serious in tone. There are a couple of beautiful short transition pieces, a la old Black Sabbath albums, like the third track “Daybreak,” and then something completely different and impossible to predict: “The Chasm at the Mouth of the All.” The hoarse whisper and rolling desert rhythms are very Tarantino (in the Italian western sense, as others have opined), leading into bigger riffs and startling diversions. I really haven’t heard anything altogether like this. “Lightchild” is a doom anthem with cavernous riffs. “Archonic Manipulations” comes next and changes the tempo entirely with a rolling rage that puts me in mind of A Small Deadly Space by Fight in some ways. “Nightfall” is a beautiful acoustic transition piece leading to the closer, “Prima Materia.” Very Floydian until about five minutes in when the crushing riffs and raking vocals give us one last punch. It all leaves me quite out of breath at the end. This is one of the best albums I have heard all year. Highly recommended.
Bandcamp has physical copies of Lux and downloads, which are available May 15. A fascinating analysis of the music, written by Grant Netzorg, is available at Decibel Magazine. I do not know how long it will remain posted, but it is here as I am typing this: https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2020/05/14/full-album-stream-in-the-company-of-serpents-lux/. It is definitely worth taking a look.
Band photo by Colleen Donley.