I don’t have exact numbers, but it’s entirely possible that the number of metal sub-genres is approaching triple digits. What’s great about this is that many of these sub-genres know how to communicate with each other thus spawning entirely new sub-genres like wet gremlins after midnight. However, this approach doesn’t always work, and while that’s not entirely the case with Forged In Black’s Descent of the Serpent, they are trying too hard to make everything fit.
Forged In Black’s base palette of Bay Area infused power metal is serviceable and in the case of “Seek No Evil” and “One In the Chamber,” it’s also memorable. The tradeoff is that the rest of the album feels like it has too much going, on and while this feels overwhelming on “Descent of the Serpent” and “Aphelion Tormentor,” this approach works to great effect on “Palm of Silver” and “Vendetta.” An interesting little quirk on this album is that there are a couple of brief moments, in particular towards the end of “One Last Sign” and the beginning of “When Hell Is Done” where Forged In Black channels their inner Deafheaven. It probably won’t work for everyone, but I thought it was cool.
The range, consistency, and fae-like approach of lead vocalist Chris Storozyniski is a standout element on Descent of the Serpent and the growls supplied by bassist Kieron Rochester give the album some unexpected bite. Overall, Descent of the Serpent is a likable album that’s lacking in discipline.