Sunday, September 18, 2016

CD Review: SNAKEWINE Serpent Kings

Serpent Kings
When hearing Snakewine was a rock band, I was apprehensive and hoping I wouldn’t be subjecting myself to a mediocre, lightweight and ultimately forgettable party album. This apprehension disappeared from when I heard the first song. Snakewine’s debut lies somewhere between biker rock and punk, with a wanderlust that has been part of American (sub)culture since the beat era (and earlier). Lending an ear to Serpent Kings made me want to travel the country’s underbelly, much like Kerouac had, stopping at each remote attraction, moving onward and writing about it all through. The first impression of this wanderlust came when I heard Circus Of Power’s debut in 1989. Snakewine presents vivid impressions of riding the countryside of Germany, where the band is based, and stopping at the local bars before traveling on. Released in October 2015, Serpent Wings has been covered responsively and Snakewine are reputed to be a memorable live act. They released a live video featuring two songs from this album (The Devil You Know and Brood Of Vipers) and testifying their music speaks for them rather than flashy stage gear. The band’s lyrical union with snakes and the mysteries of darkness moreover reminded me of The Doors and the poems of Jim Morrison, who from what I read did quite a bit of traveling in his time. Satan is a spirit of freedom rather than destruction; if you are perceptive you’ll be able to perceive that spirit lurking within, anticipating a chance to make its presence known. This is an album that makes an effort to place substance on equal footing with style, adding a hint of blues and a hint of thrash to the recipe (there are occasions where the guitar solos sounded like they could have been written by Kirk Hammett). The production of Niklas Wenzel was proportionate to the band’s compositions, but at times I thought it could have packed even more punch to do them full justice. But overall this is a solid start to Snakewine’s recording career. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Breathtaker
2. Son of a Gun
3. Brood of Vipers
4. Mean Machine
5. Serpent King
6. Double Barreled
7. The Devil You Know
8. Shipwrecked

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