The Serpent

Album Title: 
Ascending Duat
Release Date: 
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Review Type: 

For those who congregate in darkness…

Hailing from Greece, The Serpent is a project that perfectly fits to the roster of New Mexico’s Noctivagant Collective, known for its mystic, occult and mythological themes. I haven’t received, nor found, any additional information about this project, but I will delve deeper into the matter soon (though, that’s a personal thing). Now, time to focus on Ascending Duat, a four-track recording and The Serpent’s debut for Noctivagant Collective.

This album consists of four lengthy compositions (seven to twelve minutes, clocking over forty-two minutes), available digitally and on compact disc. However, the latter is strongly limited (99 copies, just some hands full left)!

The concept is based on old Egyptian myths, cults and religion, especially seen from the darker side of it. More specifically, it deals with the soul of Ani, passing through Duat, the netherworld, a story referring to death and judgement. The afterlife must be seen as a place and a time to reflect, to look back at the past, and to accept penance and punishment. It goes, evidently, further than the Egyptian cultus / mythos – a couple of thousand years ago, other religions followed a comparable trend – and that too is not that strange when regarding this American Ritual Ambient label. Translated into the present, we’re confronted with the question of death and afterlife. It’s a question people have been philosophising about as from mankind’s dawn, and each single civilization has given another definition to this quest / question, defined into deity worship, metaphorical explanations, and religion.

Anyway, from aural point of view, The Serpent translates this subject into a very overwhelming, and scarifying, form of Dark Drone Ambient Music. It is about several layers of synth manipulation, digital sources and different noises, canalised into one majestic, profuse sound-symbiosis. The better part is based on several levels of floating keyboard layers, many of them, mingled together, and deconstructed over and over again.

Esoteric and ethereal, dreamlike and hypnotic, yet also eldritch, oppressive, even gruesome, so many melodies have been canalised into an overwhelming symbiosis of colossal heaviness. At the same time, it has a ritual approach, as well as a spiritual one, trespassing the borders of genre-limiting restrictions. The material gets injected and penetrated by different sounds and samples, adding value (evidently), digging deep into the subconsciousness of the listener. The subtlety of these additional elements, brought forward with well-thought elegance, colours the whole palette even shadier.

There is a huge dose of variation going on, the opposite of monotony despite the long-stretched waves of sound. That makes this aural experience enthralling the whole of the time, teasing, making the listener craving for more, despite the deterrent approach. Evil voices, martial keyboard melodies, gloomy soundwaves, disturbing samples, and so much more; this sonic experience attracts and repels.

In some way, you feel a progression going on. Ascending Duat permanently captivates and fascinates, but the concept continuously grows, crawls forth, evolves and builds up. With Caverns Of Apep, we enter the obscure realms of the snake demon, the empire of the demigod of chaos and darkness, and you feel the light being evaporated by darkened forces. It comes in different stages, but the chapters of this opening piece have one thing in common: calamity, mischief, negativity, punishment. Via Scale Of Anubis, the descent, the journey continues, transforming into a monumental track that smothers and overshadows. It’s a huge dronescape that leaves no room for salvation, magisterial in structure, merciless in nature, asphyxiating in atmosphere. Chambers Of Osiris continues into spheres of mystery and wonder – also anxiety and anguish. This composition guides you when entering a next dimension beyond secret portals, never to come back. The multiple samples here give the oppressing melodies that subtle touch of introspection, for its natural spine is the basement of the confrontation with the inner self. Slowly crawling forward, you’re getting deeper and deeper into the eternity of repentance and oblivion. With Fields Of Aaru, Ascending Duat enters the last stage of the voyage, before entering aforementioned eternity. This piece has a unique ambience, with so many additional sounds, mesmerising noises, doomed drum patterns, and almost levitating melodies in some way. …a magnificent sonic hedge for a truly magic album!

Burnt by sun, fell on Earth; carrying knowledge…