Label: Boris Records
It says something about the nature of underground black metal that Blasphemy From Serpent Tongues sounds as if it could have been released at any point between last month and twenty-five years ago. Originally released on CD in 2005, the debut full-length from Hellgoat is now being re-released on vinyl by Boris Records. It’s easy to hear why they’ve chosen to reissue it; aside from timing with a run of US shows, the album is a darkly powerful piece of raw black metal from a time before such a style was as fashionable or over-populated as it is now. It may not be all that original, but when the music is full of such force and Satanic fervor, it’s hard to argue against it.
As with practically almost all raw black metal, the shadow of Darkthrone looms large over Blasphemy From Serpent Tongues, as does the spirit of other underground devotees such as the Les Legions Noires scene from France. What’s notable though is just how fast much of the album is; most raw black metal, even when it is vicious, is rarely played at speeds such as this. There’s almost a war metal aspect to songs such as ‘Reflection of the Morning Star’, with the way the riffs blur in to one another to all-consuming, dizzying effect. It makes Blasphemy… the kind of album where the album is more than the sum of its constituent songs; where the overall effect and atmosphere matters more than any one riff or song does.
The production is of demo quality, utterly unpalatable to mainstream black metal tastes both then and now, though it’s this rawness that enhances the dark passion and vicious aspects of Hellgoat’s songs – covered in dirt and blood, howling Satanic curses at the moon, some things are not intended to ever be clean. Yet despite this overtly vicious, primitive sound and spirit, there is a deft sense of songcraft at play; the riffs may move like whirlwinds, and the drums are a remorseless battery, but there is enough melody here for the album to remain interesting in more ways than as an example of pure brute force.
Ultimately though, the raw muscular power of Blasphemy From Serpent Tongues is what the album presents up-front, and what makes it such a thrilling listen. It is all but impossible not to be swept along with its dark, apocalyptic energies, and the experience is an exhausting, yet deeply satisfying one, with timeless appeal.
Blasphemy From Serpent Tongues is due to be re-issued on vinyl on 8th August 2017, and can be ordered via the Boris Records webstore.