Band – Heads For The Dead
Album – Serpent’s Curse
Country of Origin – International (Germany/Sweden)
Genre – Death Metal
Release Date – September 24, 2018
Label – Transcending Obscurity Records
Author – Hayduke X
The blat of the war horns sound, followed by the sinewy call to battle. Rising directly from the black earth, the undead warriors lurch forth to engage. Nothing short of total dismemberment will stop them. Up on the hillside, the chieftain stands with the whispering snake coiling about his shoulders. The creature’s tongue flits out, tasting the blood on the wind. All is proceeding as planned.
Heads For The Dead is a new project featuring Ralf Hauber (Revel in Flesh) and Jonny Pettersson (too many to mention, but Henry Kane and Just Before Dawn are a couple of my favorites) as the key collaborators. Hauber writes the horrific lyrics, in addition to providing his distinctively brutal vocal style. Pettersson handles all music and production. The duo are helped out via the session drums of Erik Bevenrud (Down Among The Dead Men) and solos from Matt Moliti (Sentient Horror, tracks 1-3) and Håkan Stuvemark (Wombbath, tracks 2 and 7). As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work, as this is an exceptional album.
One might wonder what brought war to this land, as peace had reigned for so long before. The different people had long found ways to negotiate their differences, and then a new chieftain rose to power in one region and everything changed. His arm was strong and his blade was long. Never seen without his pet, he soon conquered all surrounding villages using….unconventional means….and was now working outwards into further reaches where his people had never dwelled.
Musically, Serpent’s Curse is a clinic on everything that makes old school Swedish death metal so gripping. The guitar tones are perfect. The riffs swing like a pendulum between slow burning horrors to flesh rending shredding. The solos are never too flashy for the nightmare being created, but rather further serve to disorient the listener. The drumming is the motivating power, pitch perfect in choice of speed, fills, and rock solid to boot. The production is quiet crisp and clean, but enough grit is left in to spread the message, like using slightly grainy photo stock. The effect is indeed ‘reawakened chaos’ as The Awakening proclaims.
When the creature first slithered into his dreams, long before it ever tangibly showed itself, the young chieftain laughed off the hissed message it shared. In the early days of his leadership of his people, he proceeded much as his father had, but soon the visions of glory and power the serpent put before him began to tempt him. Then the day came when he said that simple word, yes. Yes, he would accept the creature’s help. Yes, he would follow it’s bidding. And finally, yes, he would fully give himself over. Now he only witnessed reality in fits. The serpent taught him how to raise his army, how to lead them, how to conquer all. But he saw little of it now. All he saw anymore were the visions, those provided by the serpent. Now, that was his everything….
Heads For The Dead is one of many related projects with shared membership, and when it’s all said and done, is probably my favorite. Serpent’s Curse is a steamroller of an album, rolling over you at first listen, but then it metamorphs to a dark creeping mist rolling steadily into your innermost thoughts. The earworms found throughout the album are hard to get rid of, and really, why would you want to. All in all, Serpent’s Curse is a modern SweDeath masterpiece.
Recommendation – Viciously brilliant and unrelenting. A real contender this year.
Rating – 5/5
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.