(In this post Austin Weber reviews the forthcoming album by Serdce on the Blood Music label.)
The vast riches lying within the reach of Google have included a lot of bands I’ve discovered by typing long strings of words bookended by “metal” in an effort to root out underground music of varying sub-genres that I might enjoy. Forum posts often proved most fruitful, those splendid user-generated gifts of musical knowledge. One particular band I heard mentioned glowingly a few years back via a forum post was Serdce.
They are a Minsk-based group and one whose 2004 album, Cyberly, was being billed as an unknown classic. I take comments like that with a pound of fucking salt. Yet it turned out to be true. So it gave me much pleasure that Blood Music worked with Islander here at NCS to premiere music from Serdce’s soon-to-be-released record, Timelessness. It was doubly nice that Heavy Blog Is Heavy began to post about them as well with yet another song premierel, because Serdce are a quirky progressive death metal band worth checking out — and worthy of that tag.
I admit to feeling jarred when I first heard this album. It’s a big shift from their last record, 2009’s The Alchemy Of Harmony, a record I worship and regard as a masterpiece, although the changes make sense because they’ve been expanding toward a more prog-metal-focused sound with each release. As this was always a big part of their style, the shift away from calculating, mid-paced death metal into lighter Cynic-focused realms works phenomenally well. And it’s not as confined or as prog-by-numbers as you might think.
The fusion side of this record isn’t a minor flirtation, like most of your average jazz-inflected metal dubbed progressive. In reality, it makes up the majority of the album’s sound and journey — and it’s a dense and dream-decorated journey at that. While the style on display in Timelessness is brilliant and multi-faceted to these ears, it may not be aggressive enough for the tastes of some people. For those in that camp, I urge you to examine their prior albums.
That observation is not intended as an indictment or an implication that this new album is not as good as their past work — to the contrary, I would venture to say this is Serdce’s most eclectic and strongest album yet. I merely mean to say that it’s of a more airy and progressive nature and that not all metalheads may be open-minded enough to appreciate it.
Serdce have been creating Meshuggah groove-gliding influenced death metal long before most of the pack who followed that lead, and they continue to do it better than most. But for those who are groove-averse, that’s far from the totality of what they have to offer. Throughout Timelessness you will hear a lot of piano playing and orchestral/carnival-esque synths, and in addition, the vocals are primarily sung this time around. Overall, the strong Cynic-vibe of the record comes not only from the riffing and fusion elements; the effusive, prominent, and exploratory bass playing brings that comparison to mind as well.
Huge artistic shifts in a band’s sound remain a double-edged sword, usually causing long-time fans to quarrel for and against such transformations in equal measure. Serdce have skillfully navigated these tricky waters and come out the other side a totally different, yet no less intriguing group. Timelessness doesn’t last forever, yet it contains innumerable timelessly memorable moments within its titanic, fluid, multi-part songs. Jump on the bandwagon or crawl in the dust — Timelessness will find an interested and eager audience either way — though I urge you to give it a chance and get on board.
Timelessness is scheduled for release on June 17 and can be pre-ordered in a variety of formats at the Bandcamp page linked below. A full-album stream will premiere tomorrow, and we’ll update this review to include it when that happens. Below you can hear the three tracks that have premiered to date.
UPDATE: The full album stream can be found HERE.
FURTHER UPDATE: Blood Music has now released Timelessness as a “pay what you want” download on Bandcamp (link below).