In The Company Of Serpents, a three-piece out of Denver, Colorado, play their cards close to their chests at first on their fourth full-length Lux. There’s a few unexpected tricks bouncing around in the opening duo of ‘The Fool’s Journey’ and ‘Scales of Maat’. The former dips convincingly into hallucinogenic stoner vibes between bouts of crushing doom riffs (with a tried and true thrash gallop to round off the end), while the latter anchors on pure sludge before diving into something a little more flavored-with-death. For the most part though, anyone that clocks the “sludge” and “doom” tags won’t find a lot to be surprised by.
The cards are firmly on the table, however, when ‘Daybreak’ rolls around. Though merely an interlude, ‘Daybreak’ suddenly introduces pastoral acoustic guitars and distant violins that would fit comfortably within the score of any western film. ‘The Chasm at the Mouth of the All’ refuses a return to comfort, instead offering staggering clean guitars and whispered vocals that smoulder and swagger like an outlaw. Toss in an ultra heavy groove in the back-half with a gruff sing-growl on top and suddenly Lux is looking like a very different beast. Two more satisfying slices of sludge metal follow before another interlude in ‘Nightfall’ which fits in a bit more spanish style guitar before closing cut ‘Prima Materia’ brings it all home. Cinematic, hot-blooded, and heavy as hell, one wishes westerns were told this way all the time.
All told, Lux is an exceedingly surprising and satisfying record that comfortably marries a cinematic vision of the American Old West to barrages of sludgy doom. It’s a sensible combination in hindsight to the point that one has to wonder why there are so few that have tried it before (clock Cobalt’s latest for something in the same ballpark). In The Company Of Serpents have their style settled here and one would be a fool not to have a gander at least once.
Lux is out now via Petrichor and can be ordered here.
Words: Brett Tharp