Nahasheol – Serpens Abyssi Review

Black metal is a petty mistress, a femme fatale. Promising the void with cupped hands only to say “made you look” when thousands of one-man bedroom projects jump on your face like deranged sugar gliders, black metal will lull you in and punish you for your optimism. That said, I know better,1 so I approached the Dutch duo Nahasheol cautiously. While I was foolhardy and will admit that the artwork and a promising title (“the serpent of the abyss” in Latin) were the things that kept me tied to her, Serpens Abyssi promises pure second-wave shenanigans. In this way, the duo does not disappoint.

While multi-instrumentalist D.2 provides the onslaught, lyricist N. Shyamasundara conjures the dark paths of Luciferianism. You know the whole song and dance by now. Blastbeats and tremolo are featured prominently, although D.’s barks signal a more significant weight than other frigid tones. Nahasheol, as a result, is a dense beast that defies the frostbitten sting of its forefathers—more akin to acts like Pa Vesh En or Cultes des Ghoules. More ominous than piercing, it weaves a thread of melody or dissonance into each pummeling track, Dark Funeral-esque energy dominating each. Ultimately, while nothing terribly cutting-edge or game-changing, Serpens Abyssi busts enough moves to make for an enjoyable listen that makes black metal look sexy.

Serpens Abyssi by Nahasheol

Serpens Abyssi lays a solid foundation with its percussion. Session drummer and journeyman Krzysztof Klingbein, a disciple of Ulcerate’s Jamie Saint Merat, leads with absolutely vicious blastbeats in each track, with just enough variety of plodding drama or 2-4 tension to allow Nahasheol’s other elements to move fluidly. A pendulum swing of melody and dissonance further bolstered by subtle synth work, tracks like opener “Arcanum Mortuus” and “Bringer of Divine Ecstasy” give a yearning feel, with movement of an underlying guitar lead bringing a tasteful emotion to the dark surroundings, while “The Aetheric Void” and “Mambah Maa” waver into clarity with vicious dissonance that adds a tasteful rawness to the proceedings, colluding with manic drum performances a la Mo’ynoq that feel like a Satanic kick to the face. The density is a clear positive of Serpens Abyssi, as it conjures a darkness that often remains on the fringes of black metal’s emphasis on the cold. It reflects the grandiosity of its artwork with a suspended pentatonic scale, particularly in absolutely destroying closer “Devan Thanatha,” while listeners take in the grand pyramid before them.

While powerful and domineering, there is little about Nahasheol that stands out. Several listens in, while each song has its quality blend of punishment and melody, there are few passages that stick. Serpens Abyssi largely flows like one long song, with Klingbein’s wild drum intros the only signal of a song’s conclusion. Arguably a result of the density, it’s insanely difficult to ascertain between each session of pummeling, as each one is steadfastly adherent to the second-wave worship. The dissonant tracks are the more bulletproof, with their dedication to menace leading to a tasteful balance between clarity and density, leaving tracks like “The Awakening” and “Bringer of Divine Ecstasy” paling in comparison. Ultimately, a denser Dark Funeral is not the most exciting thing to promote, with only one member doing the heavy lifting—N. Shyamasundara’s Luciferian lyrics do not seem to add anything to an already Lucifer-centric subgenre. It’s also a little problematic that Nahasheol’s hired gun session drummer is the most solid part of their debut.

I had a good time with Serpens Abyssi, in spite of my criticisms. Nahasheol’s debut is far from perfect, but it’s still a solid and dense piece of second-wave black metal that will appeal to fans of the style. It’s evocative and punishing, with a deft handle on melody and dissonance and features an absolute maniac behind the kit. However, most of the forty-two-minute runtime is in one ear and out the other, flying by with reckless abandon. I can offer a solid recommendation of Nahasheol’s Serpens Abyssi for those who enjoy their black metal dense and punishing, but give a warning for genre naysayers to steer clear of this succubus, warts and all.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Argento Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 3rd, 2023

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