The esteemed status of the musicians that form Serpentine Path lends an instantaneous clout of credibility not often afforded to a band who has just released their full-length debut. Comprising the complete line-up of recently retired Unearthly Trance – Jay Newman, Darren Verni and Ryan Lipynsky – and former Electric Wizard bassist and current Ramesses guitarist Tim Bagshaw, Serpentine Path takes a much narrower, more animalistic approach than Unearthly Trance ever did. Over Unearthly Trance’s 12 year existence, this band was not adverse to experimentation, filling burning cavities of sludge/doom with hardcore, bleak atmospherics, drone, and the death-march of Celtic Frost.
Sometimes the "featuring ex-members of" tag can be misleading, but in the case of Serpentine Path, pedigree is important. The band, which debuted in February on a self-titled 7", includes the entirety of Unearthly Trance, a Brooklyn-via-Long Island trio that issued a string of harrowing, unpredictable doom-metal records before disbanding this past July. Bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni play the same roles in the new group, while Ryan Lipynsky-- a super-prolific guitarist-vocalist also known for his work in black-metal projects such as Thralldom and the Howling Wind-- handles mic duties exclusively.
Though Unearthly Trance officially disbanded in July 2012, following five largely rewarding albums, the members of this Long Island trio actually had no intention of going their separate ways. Instead, they had already taken steps to partner with one-time Electric Wizard bassist and Ramesses guitarist Tim Bagshaw, and forge a brand new entity named Serpentine Path. So within months of the aforementioned "breakup" announcement, the material collaborated on by the quartet was ready to be issued through Unearthly Trance's final label home, Relapse Records.
With a lineup consisting of all three members of New York sludge-doom trio Unearthly Trance alongside former Electric Wizard/current Ramesses bassist Tim Bagshaw, Serpentine Path were/are pretty much destined to deliver a respectable level of detuned satisfaction. While the band’s debut breaks pretty much zero new ground, Serpentine Path’s thudding death-doom will have genre enthusiasts rolling their stoned skulls in graveyard genuflection. Meandering and dirge-like, the eight songs here live up to the band’s moniker, weaving slow and snaky through the album’s 42 minutes and what we can only presume is a veritable wall of amplification.
Terrifying yet magnificent horror from a group getting doom metal so very right. Alex Deller 2012 If there's one group who should be able to get doom metal right, it has to be this terrifying new act. Serpentine Path features members of criminally-overlooked psych-metal oddities Unearthly Trance and one Tim Bagshaw, a transplanted Englishman who cut his teeth with doom overlords Electric Wizard and has since been terrorizing the countryside with occult weirdoes Ramesses.
Is it a strange coincidence that the debut from these NYC doomsters arrives in stores on the anniversary of the American terror attacks? Perhaps, but the music does serve as an appropriate soundtrack of the terror and loss that happened that day. Serpentine Path were founded by Tim Bagshaw (Electric Wizard, Ramses), who joined forces with recently disbanded members from Long Island's Unearthly Trance: Ryan Lipynsky, Jay Newman and Darren Verni. Despite being a true representation of NYC-style doom ? there's something within the creases of this music that conjures up the emotional tribulations of urban residents unable to prosper in the Big Apple ? the album starts off a bit tepid.