[sic] Magazine

Holy Serpent – Endless

There something deeply nostalgic about Holy Serpent. It’s nostalgia for a time rather than a specific sound though because Endless, the Melbourne band’s third album of such material, again doesn’t deviate far from the twin altars of stoner and alt-rock, Scott Penberthy’s calm vocal and his band’s growing reliance on melody now closing the door on metal and opening one instead to winding roads marked heavy-psych. As such they’re a crossover band at a crossroads, launching headlong into concept (Endless is influenced by the “mystery and power of the ocean”) without over-committing to anything but fuzz. Hence, while “the album loosely follows the lyrical theme of two lovers, oceans apart, … their love so strong, they eventually walk into the water, ending their lives to be together in the afterlife”, you’ll not notice any of this as you’ll be too busy holding on during an absolute maelstrom of distortion.

Ignoring its interesting yet fairly meaningless meta data though, Endless is a muscular hoot start to finish. Getting straight to the point, a wall of guitar drops during the opening exchanges like a ton of bricks, Penberthy’s dreamy vocal smeared out over the crackling waveform and neck-popping tones. 2019’s Holy Serpent are more accessible than you might expect though, a second guitar line here picking out the peaks of that sludgy flow, the pleading vocal reaching Matt Bellamy levels of emotion at its crescendo. Another juggernaut groove follows, faster riffs squaring off against Lance Leembruggen’s oppressive, leaden drums and some white-hot soloing at the track’s midpoint – another fine example of the band’s trademark “shroom doom” to add to the catalogue. Just as exciting is “Daughter Of The Light”, Dave Bartlett’s bass as subtle as anvils, sharper feedback-ridden slashes of guitar ensuring a cascade of gloom to counteract Penberthy’s mew, rim-shot percussion giving way to full broadsides of noise.

The stadium-sized basement banger “Hourglass” then explodes with predictable results in turn, a catchy distorto-monster with Muse-like ambition once more, coming on like OK Computer and Kyuss’s Sky Valley playing simultaneously. And, even amongst these patient tracks that average around six minutes, the even longer “For No One” stands out for being extra slow and low, detuned bass an uneasy bedfellow for vocal harmonising and peel after peel of protesting guitar. A relative oasis of calm, the closer, “Marijuana Trench” (see what you did there!), finally simmers in acoustic strumming before the inevitable fuzz cruises into view, mixed though at an equal level to the straining vocal to deliver another impressive slab of retro rock, its melodies drawn out to the point of snapping, its elasticity just holding under bombardment – a monolith made to last, Endless is indeed intended to stand for time immemorial.

Best track: “Into The Fire”

~Endless is released October 18th 2019 via RidingEasy Records.~