The search for new and interesting music is slowly grinding to a halt for me, as much as I hate to say it. There just aren’t bands out there that are willing and able to try something different, make something interesting, but most of all make it good. A lot of albums I’ve gotten in the past few months have been nothing more than disappointing, worth maybe two listens at best, and always seem to sink into my collection behind other, more worthy albums. It is a pleasant surprise, though, to find something which makes me happy on all levels. When I was recommended The Serpent’s Manifolds
, the newest offering by Greek Avant-Garde black metal band Transcending Bizarre?, I approached it with my usual bit of skepticism. I wasn’t expecting it to be good; it seemed way too out there to be anything remotely interesting. What I learned, however, was that The Serpent’s Manifolds
is like a well encrypted code; incomprehensible at first, but truly meaningful after it is given the time to be understood.
The weird thing about this album is how, with everything that’s going on, each song has a fairly centralized focus. Whether it be that pretty damn catchy chorus in “Irreversible”, the sweet bass lick in “Cosmic Zero Equation”, the ear-catching two minute guitar solo to close off the entire album in “Infinite”, or the subtle harmonized guitars toward the end of “The Serpent’s Manifolds”, it all pretty much works together in perfect harmony. The programming, keys and synths are used quite a lot but never seem like they are running the show or overly stupid, everything seems to balance in perfect equilibrium between the most basic and most complex of songs. There are moments such as the beginning of “Cell” where things break off from the mold of the first five tracks, with keyboards, violins and effects abound for the first three minutes before things tighten into a really excellent rhythm.
The simple use of tempo changes works wonders in making everything seem different, and coupled with the excellent (and imaginative) songwriting it makes the album a pleasure to listen to beginning to end. Seriously, nothing gets boring and there isn’t one boring track during the entire run time. Also, the fact that this is labeled as “Avant-Garde” doesn’t make it completely out there and obscure. There are many trademarks of traditional black metal which are retained here, most notably in the pretty astounding drumming and some hints of it in the vocal style. “Writhing Coils Of Construction” is full of pretty impressive fills and lightning-fast double bass along with everyone’s favorite- blast beats! But don’t think that means that it’s just all-out behind the kit for the entire album, since there are many times when the drums are used more toward interesting atmospheric touches (the intro to “Cell” is an excellent example of this).
The band has talent in every department and the songwriting to back it up. They can write such excellent heavy tracks and also have the patience and intuition to take the time to write some pretty crushing slower songs. Speaking of songwriting, if you take a look at the use of singing in this album you will find that clean vocals are used exactly and only where they are needed (meaning that they are never, ever overused and don’t water down the “black metal” part of the album). “The Music Of The Spheres” is where, in my opinion, the vocals are at their best, because the interchanging between the layered growled vocals and the pretty melodic clean vocals is as perfect as you can get.
The Serpent’s Manifolds
does what it does because of the inclusion and focus of each and every instrument on each and every song. The guitars are heavy, but at the same time extremely melodic and lay down riffs and solos like nobody’s business. The bass is audible and actually contributes. The drums are highly effective and a pleasure to listen to, perfectly controlled during every song. The keys and synths do wonders to the atmosphere of the album, inserting effects during every song to make it sound fresh and interesting. The vocals are the glue to the album, doing a practically flawless job of keeping things uniquely black metal and uniquely avant-garde. If you want to find out exactly what you are in store for, only one listen to the absolutely flawless closer “Infinite” is all you will need. Transcending Bizarre? are truly geniuses at what they do, crafting an album full of excellent songs and unique moments to black metal as a genre. Purists beware, though; this isn’t something for the “tr00 kvlt black metal fan” who won’t accept change. This is something for people who are sick and tired of hearing the same old thing, tired of being disappointed by half-assed attempts at sounding “deep” and interesting. The Serpent’s Manifolds
is a must for fans of black metal, and should be seriously considered by anyone with a desire for something new in metal.