Transcending Bizarre?
The Serpent's Manifolds

Transcending Bizarre?, a somewhat eccentric Avant-garde Black Metal name from Central Macedonia (Greece), indeed put a huge question mark before me with their second album The Serpent’s Manifolds as I struggled to come up with at least a couple of bands their music could be compared to. Nonetheless, I will dare to assume them to use approximately the same source of inspiration as Norway’s Arcturus but with a greater emphasis on pure metallic values. Thus, I can certainly hear a lot of Symphonic Power and even some Gothic and Modern Metal expressed throughout their abundant orchestrations, fast galloping lead assaults, and occasional ascends into the high-tech zone with all its synths and electronics. With their commitment to Symphonic Power Metal, Transcending Bizarre? also remind me a bit of Italian black masters Stormlord, only they shield it with a sense of modernism breathing through every speck of their music. Symphonic workouts of the guest violin duo of Thanos and Anastasia and splashes of mesmerizing synths emerge here and there, providing a tasteful contrast to the jack hammering riffs and hissing semi-shrieked vocals.

The most notable thing about these guys is that they are thoroughly competent at song writing and definitely know where good, catchy, melodies dwell. It’s most probably the very same source frequented by their fellow compatriots Rotting Christ, for there seem to be a lot of similarities shared by these two bands. In fact, The Serpent’s Manifolds sounds so disarmingly tempting it’s practically impossible not to fall into its numerous snares at first shot. Album opener “Irreversible” shuffles hypnotic, Dimmu Borgir-like symphonic atmospheres with fascinating Power Metal motifs and moderately heavy leads adding tasty refrains and elegant solo licks in the overall mix. The song is pretty fast and sets the pace to the first part of the album, from which I would also highlight the splendid title track with its forcing momentum, alluring keyboards, distant clean singing, and thunderous leads as a very good and representative piece for the album as a whole.

The second part of the disk is a bit more temperate and recalls more of their debut The Four Scissors. Actually, the five-year gap dividing the two releases seemed to have allowed them to grow and record an album that can’t be at least accused of self-plagiarism. While The Four Scissors shows signs of very promising material with lots of interesting ideas, mainly borrowed from other bands and somewhat re-worked, it is lacking in the energy and speed that make The Serpent’s Manifolds such an intense listen. Also, singer Kotzak’s performance is undeniably more mature now with a touch of more evil and venom injected into his voice. Besides a number of superb motifs, melodies and rhythms, there are also tons of esoteric nuances to be found like the Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) styled flute playing, timpani drums, and killer interplay between the vocals and leads on the terrific mid-tempo piece “Cell”, which all together reminds me of a blackened version of Kamelot. Or, on “The Music Of The Spheres” with its odd harmonicas, clean insertions and huge epic feel. All of these are no doubt a real feast for a fan of grandiosely arranged music.

Song-wise, in spite of a little self repetition, The Serpents Manifolds is close to impeccable which will become self evident once you give it a careful listen. The only other (small) fault I find with the new album is that its rapid-fire first half tends to overshadow the more drawn out and adventurous second part. I would certainly have preferred some track rearrangements here and there, but this is too inconsequential a point for dismissing such an interesting Black Metal release. Instead, I would strongly recommend this album to those interested in melodic Black Metal with both symphonic and avant garde influences. Theirs is easily one of the better composed and executed releases I have heard from this genre so far this year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
October 29th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Dimaension X

    The second half does slow things down a bit, but I prefer this to a whole album of speedy blast-beats and screeching (Dark Funeral listening??)

    Arcturus is a good reference point – one might also compare to Diabolical Masquerade’s “Death’s Domain”.

    A good listen for the more adventurous and open-minded.


  2. Commented by: ceno

    I should hear Death’s Domain then.


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