Shaman’s Path Of The Serpent
When I first received the sophomore disc from this Californian collective of musicians (featuring members of Domiculumn, Sons Of Serro, Forever Came Calling and others) I saw an evil Illuminati symbol on the front cover, cracked the disc in half and threw it right in the garbage… Just kidding. But it kept you reading, right? No, in all seriousness we’ve got a band here that is all about raising consciousness through music and they do that in the form of doom that feels a little bit more like post-metal in the vein of Neurosis and Sub Rosa. Taking a huge segue from the fearsome nature of other doom acts, this is a more meditative type of doom, which can of course get very psychedelic very quickly. It’s pretty easy to tell you that Kyle Stratton (guitars/vocals) manages to vocally carry these heavy bass-driven atmospheres (courtesy of John Chavarria) rather well, but that isn’t the whole of this record.
Considered a mix of stoner/sludge with progressive elements by Metal Archives, I can certainly hear where they’re coming from on cuts like “Levity” where a sort of blues injection rolls right into the mix and adds a higher tempo to what is normally quite slow and thought-provoking. In other words, these guys like to pound out thousands of devastating doom riffs, some that would even feel a bit fearsome and would be in a sort of doom/death act; yet that is clearly not Atala’s intention. If you haven’t guessed by now, this record is all about the soundscapes that it conveys to the listener. Jeff Tadtaotao helps to bring these soundscapes to life with his equally thunderous drum taps, which when combined with Chavarria’s bass riffs and Strattons’ erratic vocal abrasions; becomes a sort of guitar-laden storm of thunderbolts and lightning. Though it has it’s moments of calm, there is some serious firepower to be had here and I believe that Billy Anderson (Sleep, Mastodon, The Melvins) did a great job mixing this album. I guess it could be compared a little to Sleep and possibly even to earlier Mastodon as it has a little bit more punch in some areas than other doom acts. It’s rough-edged, which you might not expect at first, but it’s still got the sort of deep emotional passion that goes into a serious spiritual doom working like this one.
Abrasive, yet meditative, Shaman’s Path Of The Serpent really is the kind of album that will, as the leaflet explains: “show the band’s true potential.” I’d definitely recommend you check it out and I think you’ll find it pretty promising. (The Grim Lord)