Recently signed with I, Voidhanger Records, Serpent Ascending's first release for the label brings together two previously released demos, 2009's Serpent Ascending and 2010's The Mournful Pilgrimage, with a new song, 'The Entwinement', available in a CD slipcase with a 20-page booklet of artwork and lyrics. A project for which Jarno Nurmi can express his own satanic and occultic views, the tracks are a mass of twisted riffs interlaced with dark atmospheres. Nurmi's guitar work is very good, even outstanding at times, with the occasionally striking hook and melody making an appearance. The bass sits well in the mix, its audibility adding plenty of weight to the tracks and supporting the guitar lines to create dense textures. The drumming, though basic, supports the tracks well. The vocals remain the same throughout, the low, monotonous death growls barely deviating from the standard.
From 2010, 'The Mournful Pilgrimage', parts 1 and 2, are weighty, down temp dirges, both of which feature some interestingly bleak guitar melodies that wind their way through the mire of the weighty riffs. The complex structures of the fast and aggressive 'Saturnal' and 'The Human Ladders' with its slow, melodic middle section, are especially impressive, the tremolo riffs of both reinforced with dense double bass drum work. The songs from 2009 feature strong leads and the writing is less developed than the tracks from 2010. 'World of Flesh and Bone' is rich and dense, 'Serpent Ascending' equally so, as are 'The Enigma Unsettled' and Endless Initiations', making it difficult to identify either a strong or a weak track. Between the two demos, the 2009 tracks are generally better and, curiously, as is the sound. 'The Entwinement' is along the lines of the 2010 tracks with the riffs and weight akin to 'World of Flesh and Bone' and shows a distinct development in Nurmi's song writing and ability to blend atmosphere with brutality. Across all the tracks, there's room for improvement in the playing and the recording – they are demos after all – but that will no doubt be addressed on the next release. The Enigma Unsettled is an impressive collection of tracks that is intriguing enough to compel a listen to the second release. And if the sound quality is improved then Nurmi's musicianship will truly be allowed to shine.
- The Mournful Pilgrimage – Part 1
- The Human Ladder
- The Mournful Pilgrimage – Part 2
- The Entwinement
- World Of Flesh On Bone
- Serpent Ascending
- The Enigma Unsettled
- Endless Initiations