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Sisters Of...: The Serpent, The Angel, The Adversary

On the popular sketch comedy television show Key and Peele, there's a segment where an athlete relates his difficulties and triumphs in overcoming adversity. Such comments are typical parts of post-game reflections. What makes the sketch surprising is that adversity is quickly revealed to be the name of a person—Adversity Jones, in fact. A real pain in the butt, Adversity whoops and hollers and constantly demands attention. One can never be free of him and his in-your-face antics. Of course, the sketch is much funnier than my description of it, but it's good enough for me to make my point. See, this album is called The Serpent, the Angel, and Adversary, a title that clearly brings to mind Judeo-Christian notions of fallen humans and perpetual trouble. The track called "The Adversary" especially reminded me—thematically—of the Key and Peele sketch. I realize that Adversary and Adversity aren't the same terms, but they both bring to mind something (or someone) that makes life difficult. Even though this album is mostly instrumental, I think that much of it is a musical reflection on this broader theme. Yes, there are other things going on, but there's definitely a sense that things are regularly rough.

"The Adversary" underscores the idea of perpetual trouble with its opening riff. Somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "One of these Days," this track builds tension through the repetition of a heavy and menacing riff, one that returns—like Adversity Jones—throughout the track. The music on this track—and on the album as a whole—is solid post-metal. Like Neurosis, Pelican, Isis, and Russian Circles, Sisters Of . . . develops musical themes and harmonies that are expansive, dynamic, and interesting. As I listened to this album, I was especially reminded of Isis in their prime. Other listeners will appreciate the musical connections to Neurosis. Let's not get lost comparisons, however. Sisters Of . . . has created a striking debut that is worth a careful listen.

Besides "The Adversary," there are a couple of other tracks that signal thematic trouble. For example, the album opens with "The Serpent," a track that begins with female voices singing in harmony, only to be interrupted by a hard-driving, pulsating riff. Serpents provide a long-standing symbol of trouble, especially in the soothing spaces of paradise. This track, like the symbolic serpent, knows just when to break in and disrupt the calm. I'll bet the serpent from the Bible didn't chug like these guitars, though. I'd also like to include "Annabelle" on my list of tracks that suggest the theme of adversity. I have no idea whether the name comes from the possessed doll found in movies like The Conjuring, but I can't resist making a bit of a connection here. Annabelle was one of the best things about that movie; she's also the perfect subject for a metal composition. Like the other songs I've mentioned so far, this one is also hard-driving and expansive.

For those who don't know Sisters Of . . ., this is the band's debut album. Initially a project developed by Aaron Coker, he is now joined by Chris Clark. Together, these guys have already released one EP (and a good one, at that) and are now poised to make a bigger impression with their first full-length. In this review, I've highlighted only three tracks from this album, mostly because of the thematic connections I see in the titles, but there's much more to discover here. I've especially neglected thinking about the angel mentioned in the title. Perhaps there are moments of redemption—or at least something like outside help amidst all the trouble. I'd like to think so. Fortunately, "The Angel" is also a really good track. Check out "Leva In Mare" as well. Fans of post-metal will find this recording satisfying. I think it may also persuade listeners new to this style.

Track Listing:
1. The Serpent
2. The Angel
3. The Adversary
4. Germana Cele
5. Annabelle
6. Annaliese
7. Leva In Mare

Added: May 14th 2015
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1526
Language: english

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