Label: Yamabushi Recordings
The depressing fact about too much music released today is that it is boring. Bands may play and write with what they feel is enough passion, but those feelings may not come across on record; or the ideas were never as good as they thought they were. Alternatively, bands may be content with creating something that touches upon too many well-worn furrows to come across as exciting, leaving instead a general feeling of “this is OK, but it’s too similar to [insert band name here], I’ll just listen to them instead.” I may love a bit of Darkthrone worship every now and then, and there’s no shame in playing something generic if that’s what you want to do, but sometimes, I want something more.
Enter Ewige Schlangenkraft. Though rooted in black metal, with Les Legions Noires being a valid reference point, the duo are creating something entirely their own, with Eternal Serpent Power feeling like an authoritative statement of psychedelic, raw-as-fuck black metal. Incredibly uncomfortable and challenging, this is a true hidden gem of UK black metal.
There’s little point in assessing a release like Eternal Serpent Power on a track-by-track basis; it works best when taken as a whole, plunging yourself head-first in to its dizzying, uncompromising assault. As befits a cassette release, songs flow in to one another in to one intimidating whole, and the mp3s available are divided in to sides rather than individual tracks. The music itself ranges from slow, relatively sparse dirges and psychedelic exploration to hyper-speed deranged violence that comes across like G.I.S.M. playing raw black metal, along with an almost post-punk unorthodoxy at times. The sense of contrast is enormous. It’s all tied together by a semi-mystical psychedelic aura, complete with middle eastern instrumentation that builds upon the primitive transcendence offered on previous EPs, such as Enlightened Violence. It’s not just violent or experimental for its own sake – there is a feeling throughout that the band are reaching for something more, to raise the music above being mere entertainment and in to more important territories.
As diverse and all-encompassing as it is, Eternal Serpent Power does rely to some extent on drawing you in to its world, aligning yourself with its mindset and letting its power run through you. This is most apparent on the second side of the tape, which includes longer, more avant-garde offerings that are like a raw black metal version of krautrock. In isolation, they could be dismissed as barley listenable. But by this stage of the record, Eternal Serpent Power should have you well within its grasp, in which case they make sense, and can be understood as the daring compositions that they are.
Eternal Serpent Power won’t be for everyone, as even by the standards of black metal it is a vicious, dangerous beast. But it could never be accused of lacking in ambition or playing it safe, and is creative and experimental with a clear aim in mind, which is worthy of praise in itself. When it’s tied to music as good as this, it makes it hard to deny that Ewige Schlangenkraft are one of UK black metal’s best bands, and deserve far more praise and recognition than they will probably ever get.