It’s been quite a wait since 2013’s very tasty Gratum Inferno, and so, sucker that I am for this sort of thing, I was eagerly looking forward to this one.
Yep, this is old-school death metal, rooted in the classic Swedish style, but with elements of bands such as Bolt Thrower, Incantation, and Asphyx thrown into the mix too. As I say, anything based around Swedish death metal tends to be an easy win for me, despite how tired and done to death the style essentially is. Something about it is always enjoyable, regardless of how skilled the band in question might actually be. Make no mistake though, Cleric are skilled at their work, and Serpent Psalms hits the spot nicely.
It’s heavy, it’s dark, it’s brutal. The buzzsaw riffs are sharp enough to cut flesh, and the blast beats are the sound of buildings being destroyed. Some Swedish death metal eschews blast beats and the more aggression trappings of the style, but not Cleric. There’s a savage edge to much of the faster work here that really gets the adrenaline flowing. Add to this a talent for engaging melodies and macabre atmosphere, and Cleric’s new album has been worth the wait.
Ultimately this album probably sounds exactly as you would imagine it to, and to me that’s no bad thing. The music on Serpent Psalms is both well-written and well-played, and delivers the goods in a tight 38-minute package. How much mileage you get out of Cleric depends, I suppose, on how satiated you are on the old-school sound. If you have any tolerance for the style left, then Serpent Psalms should be high on your list of albums to check out.