Here we have another female-fronted gothic-metal band. How original. Germany’s Flowing Tears, apparently huge on Europe’s underground darkwave circuit, get their first North American release with Serpentine. And it’s not a bad album. In fact, uptempo songs like the title track and "The Carnage People" rock solidly but still retain the album’s overall agony-and-pain groove.
The problem with this particular metal niche, though, is that many of the female vocalists who dominate it tend to sound too similar. Of course, the same could be said for singers in any genre, regardless of whether they’re male or female. But in this case, Stefanie Duchêne’s deep voice, despite its sultriness, begins to drone long before these 12 tracks play out. It’s not that Duchêne can’t sing; it’s just that — with the exception of a few songs, such as the almost-whispered "Merlin" and the vocally experimental "Cupid of the Carrion Kind" — she sings with basically the same intonation throughout. The denseness of the accompanying melodic yet repetitive music doesn’t help. The three male players engage in ethereal brooding sessions that intrigue but don’t enrapture. Serpentine would sound awesome pumping out of a club’s sound system; otherwise, it’s just background music.