There’s not much you can say about Serpents Athirst, and that’s probably the way these Sri Lankans like it. They aren’t here to push the boundaries of black metal, and aren’t here to change the way anyone thinks about it, and with their debut EP, Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration, Serpents Athirst have three relentless and bloodthirsty tracks of aggressive black metal that act as a tease more than anything else.
It’s obvious from the get-go that Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration isn’t going to try and dazzle you with a technical or flourishing approach to black metal. From the intro–consisting of a choir backed by the sounds of war–to the closing samples of flies buzzing in the wind, all that lies in between is twelve minutes of blasphemous and filthy black metal inspired by the originators of the style. While the band is heavily influenced by acts like Sarcófago and Blasphemy–especially with their gritty production and miasmic vocals that drift between guttural lows and foul, higher-pitched screams–they come across as much more precise. Where Sarcófago’s charm lay with its sloppy drumming and haphazard approach to black metal, Serpents Athirst have a strong penchant for tight musicianship, especially with Obliterator’s surprisingly fantastic drum performance. His drumming complements the riffs nicely with a strong method and rhythm rather than a more generic approach to blast beats.
Serpents Athirst aren’t just another riffless bestial war metal band; what makes their music so attractive is the way they play such a savage and primitive sound, yet still manage to have a focus on solid and memorable riffs that permeate the small runtime of this EP. The only negative aspect to this release is that it’s so short. Fans of this style will be left wanting more long after it’s finished and through repeated listens. There’s much more to be fleshed out here, especially with such addictive riffs and a standout vocal performance by Reverend Khaostorm that evokes the filthiest timbres of black metal’s underground legends. Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration is violent, hateful and dynamic in its approach to those qualities, all while staying absolutely true to black metal’s earliest roots.