Black metal is often categorized by the temperature that it’s imagined to have: your band is either infernal, frostbitten, or somewhere in between. As strange as it is to assign a temperature to a sound, these descriptions actually convey a fair amount of information when used correctly and can refer to characteristics like tempo, production quality, vocal style, and more. Blood of Serpents, then, evokes the warmth of a sunny afternoon (or perhaps the depths of perdition) with their blistering Marduk-influenced approach to black metal, fitted with high-speed drumming and demonic vocals for extra insulation.
There’s no shortage of riffs contained on Sulphur Sovereign, but while the guitar certainly has its time to shine (as each song has at least one section designed specifically to flaunt a certain riff), I found the drumming to be the strongest clot in this Blood of Serpents. The mix definitely does it some favors; the percussion is loud and its power often bleeds out and over the guitar, merging the two sounds into a blazing sonic weapon. The second half of the album has some well-executed and tastefully introduced slower sections (which serve as a relief, as Sulphur Sovereign does run a bit long) but generally, the selling point here is that distinctive Swedish style of relentlessness and aggression laced tightly over the melodies beneath.
Sulpher Sovereign is a professionally handled modernization of the classic Swedish black metal reminiscent of Marduk, Setherial, and other high-speed blasphemers. A 48-minute runtime is a bit much for this particular style and the tracks might blend together if you aren’t paying attention, but ultimately this is a triumphant output for such a relatively new band.
Sulphur Sovereign releases September 25th via Non Serviam Records.