Review Summary: Solid like a certain appendage after looking through some Holly Peers pictures.
Serpent Ascending's The Enigma Unsettled
is a finely hidden gem within the 2011 metal scene, adding yet another chapter to the fabled Finnish death metal division. Essentially combining elements of Depravity's Silence of the Centuries
and at other locations slowing down to the murky depths of Slugathor and Stench of Decay, The Enigma Unsettled
is very much a conglomerate of the sounds of this particularly rotten death metal scene and a pleasant surprise for the weary and uncompromising heeder.
Thrashy and at times infusing sinister melodies, solo act Jarno Nurmi's guitar work is exemplary throughout the album, going from trampling up-tempo riff fests to plodding, grungy doom with relative ease. Similarly, his drum and cymbal display is adequate and pummeling in it's delivery and, during some sections, the bass shines through as well, for example on the third track, "The Human Ladders". Possibly the most clear element of the music is his barreling and trudging growl, combining the styles of Rami Jämsä (Convulse) and Jarkko Rantanen (Adramelech), and which is set up at the forefront of the production and intimidates at every turn. He adds in a bit of a puking, shredded tone into the grunt at times, which increases the diversity without changing pitch much, as if he is having hydrochloric acid, like that time you accidentally spilled it in your classroom and burnt a hole through the desk, poured down his throat or having just one too many drinks the previous night and kneeling in front of the ***ter, groaning after throwing up the past fourteen times.
Grumbling his way through the album, Nurmi proficiently displays the traits that make his country's death metal among the top scenes in the world for malodorous musicianship, when it appears the album may be softening up just a tad, it sinks back into the realms of describing whats on the album cover (Quoting Vesper: "It looks like one of those weird slide puzzles except Satan style") in a not-so-watered down fashion. Production brings out the music effectively, adding just the right amount of clarity while maintaining the old school fuzziness and edge that purists desire and enough to keep them crawling back for more.
The Enigma Unsettled
should give Finnish death fans something to cheer about, combining several aforementioned techniques of other successful bands within the scene and adding a touch of originality to avoid falling into the depths of repetitiveness. Personally, I look forward to hearing more from Jarno in the future, because he certainly has something going here. If those of you who wondered what it might have been like for Depravity to release a full length, this album may just give a glimpse into just that proposition.