After a mildly disappointing second full-length, Finland’s Thy Serpent returns with four songs of the most emotive blackened metal I’ve heard in ages. I’m not too sure if it’s the fact that Thy Serpent mainman Sami Tenetz nabbed Rapture guitarist and songsmith Tomi Ullgren. Whatever the situation may be, Death is moving, engaging and inescapably impressive.

Opening the album with a Katatonia-flavored riff, “Deathbearer” is a beautiful but ugly monster. Behind the uplifting lead guitar lies a framework that’s more intune with Enslaved’s abstract meandering than Katatonia’s simple-equals-more songwriting. It shows that even though Thy Serpent is heading towards new territory, the band simply can’t leave its black metal roots behind. The song segues nicely into stunning intro of “Wounds of Death.” Here is where Ullgren and Tenetz amazing guitar abilities finally shine through the previous song’s dense forest of scorching black metal. I’m thinking it’s Ullgren’s melodic lead work that carries the song into the stratosphere, simply because he demonstrated the same sense of urgency in Rapture. Even if the atmospheric edge of Ullgren and Tenetz’s fretted mastery seeps through at the end of the song, “Sleep in Oblivion” effortlessly shape-shifts back into the black metal monster heard in the opening track. “Parasites” also morphs to and from a beauty and the beast song structure.

Sure, there are only four songs here, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t heard a finer Ep since Katatonia’s Sounds of Decay. In fact, Death is better!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
October 30th, 2000

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