Looking at the cover art of DUNGEON SERPENT’s debut full-length, World Of Sorrows, I was instantly reminded of the CANDLEMASS albums Nightfall and Ancient Dreams. Delving a bit deeper, come to find out that the same artist – 19th century British-American painter, Thomas Cole – is responsible for all. I remember buying Nightfall when it came out, having no idea what I’d be hearing once I got home, and falling so under that spell as to now have the iconic skull-and-spikes image now tattooed on my body.

‘Necroscope’ doesn’t waste any time whatsoever getting down to the business of death, singular member Arawn exhibiting that hyperblast Canadian tradition early on, but injecting a fair share of low-slung riffs and Stockholm-worship time signatures reminiscent of GRAVE and NIHILIST, seeming equally at home in both worlds. Situated ideally as an opening track, ‘Necroscope’ goes off on a good many tangents, but never meanders, is always assured of its destination, a glimpse of what’s to soon befall.

Vocally, Arawn keeps things from getting boring by injecting the standard sub-guttural death metal delivery with a higher-pitched, near-blackened rasp at times, as in the chugging halfway mark of ‘Decay’, only to close out the song with a fiercely melodic lead that tumbles gently into atmospheric keyboard-tinged subtlety.

‘Cosmic Sorcery’ begins with a lead pattern reminiscent of early, heavier SENTENCED / Thy Mighty Contract-era ROTTING CHRIST, but quickly moves into a churning maelstrom, just as rapidly dialing back for a mournful solo. I get the feeling that Arawn hears the music in his head, and struggles with how to best impart the visions at times, as in the bass-led interlude around 1/3 of the way through this track. That said, I believe it’s something that will stand out on future listens, possibly even be looked forward to.

Closing out with an 11-minute instrumental title track is ambitious to say the least, I don’t care who you are. That DUNGEON SERPENT attempts such – and largely succeeds – on its debut is confirmation that Arawn has glorious things in mind for this project. World Of Sorrows, despite its title, is a glance back at the days when metal was boundless, genre-less, yet with an eye cast firmly to the future.
Review By: Lord Randall

World Of Sorrows
Nameless Grave Records
4 / 6