Like a lot of people I’m currently holed up with enough bottles of Pinot and bags of pretzels to last me until the End Times. To while away the hours until either the Rapture carries me off in a existential pursuit of loo rolls or else I succumb to taking out squirrels with my catapult I have Law of the Trapezium, Serpent Raptors third CD to listen to.
Released at the business end of last year this is a heavier collection than 2018’s Memoria and it would take a brave soul to self isolate with just Law of the Trapezium as the only disc in the deck. However after a couple of listens this LP’s secrets begin to reveal themselves. Opening confidently with Madness Manifests the song somehow manages to lose itself just after the half way mark, turning from an engagingly potential Exorcist soundtrack to some indecisive strumming. Nihilism is alive and kicking in Nothing To Believe In, Maggotts and Dark Thoughts Rising but just as how even the most aggravating and larynx bothering bottle of £4.99 Pinot still allows one to pick out delicate flavours so with this one can pick out a nod to some unusual bedfellows in the bouquet: a soupçon of Tears for Fears (Crown of Thorns) here and a hint of The The (Prison of Eden) there, particularly in the skiterish drum machine patterns and background sounds that often provide the bedrock for Serpent Raptors’ controlled rap chants/rants. The production is inventive, often busy although there to serve the song. Musically it falls within synth wave/industrial territory, veering from squelchy synths (Forbidden Fruit) via clattering drums to fuzzy guitars that apply themselves diligently whilst vocally Serpent likes to mix it up style wise. Lyrically however we are walking that well trodden route of biblical themes/metaphors (Forbidden Fruit, Prison of Eden, Crown of Thorns) without ever really off roading, so to speak. Profanities are tossed into the mix, nothing wrong with that of course but in this day and age is there really any need to use the term retard? Twice.
If the mood seems bleak then so be it, this is more Old Testament darkness than the comparative lightness of New. However listen and you will be presently rewarded as fragmented melodies begin to emerge as if prised from Dante’s darkest subterranean ring (Enter the Gates is lovely), where they blink uncertainly in the sunlight before scuttling back down into the safety of the underworld, there to gargle gravel and ruminate once more on the end times.
Serpent Raptor is by some accounts an exciting and accomplished live performer. On this evidence I’d go see him, but with the caveat that I’d tell the Styx boatman that I might return before last orders.Various Artists