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Old 08-31-2009, 08:24 AM   #16 (permalink)
Zarko
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The Serpent’s Egg (1988)


By 1988 Dead Can Dance had solidified itself as one of 4AD’s top acts, and spared no time since ‘Within the Realm of a Dying Sun’ to release their next album, ‘The Serpent’s Egg’, released only 15 months later. The Serpent’s Egg added another notch to the bands repertoire of high end albums, improving the albums continuity (Despite the high point coming from the opening track) and consistency. I also love the album cover, minimalist that can represent a vast variety of things.

As mentioned, the indisputable high point comes early and it comes hard in the 6 minute presentation that is The Host of Seraphim. Opening with organs and heavy drumming, Gerrard harnesses all the power in her voice to climb ever higher. Filled with power and mystique, Gerrard captivates the listener, and holds your attention throughout. Words cannot adequately describe the song, with a performance than forces all those listening to take notice.


The Host of Seraphim

Though it would be near impossible to match the opening track, the next doesn’t necessarily attempt to, Orbis de Ignis only reaches a minute and a half in length, and is full of chanting, most obviously from Gerrard once again. For it’s length it fills the gap well. Severance is the first of many fine Perry performances, replicating the organs from the opening track, which creates an interesting repetitious vibe. Perry vocals are soft, as he delivers his lyrics poetically, whilst the overarching combination of style and sound offer a melancholic and sad resonance.


Severance (Outtake from 1989 TV show)

The Writing on My Father’s Hand offers an interesting mix of a harpsichord and Gerrard vocals, never really taking off from its minimalist beginnings, and is another personal favourite Gerrard vocal performance on the album. The song doesn’t match the sum of The Host of Seraphim or its grandiose nature, but Gerrard has drawn upon herself to introduce a heartfelt but also seducing tone to her songs. In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings is yet another stunning track from Perry that hits hard and fast and offers no respite. As quickly as its high point has come, it once again falls back to earth at a very rapid pace. It also holds my favourite combination of lyrics and the recital of such lyrics, namely at the highpoint, Perry calling out, “You can see our chaos in motion”.


In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings

Chant of the Paladins offers more chanting (As the title suggests) but with some very interesting aspects, with a rich and elegant combination between old folkish percussion and disturbing yet lush vocals from Gerrard. The cyclic nature of the song lends itself well to the style. Song of Sophia is a sparse section of time in which the revel can be hypnotised by Gerrard’s vocals, pure with no accompanying factors for 87 seconds. This is followed up by yet another short song of Echolalia, which reaches only 79 seconds, yet is stunning nonetheless. The album ends with two full length songs (Both going over 5 minutes in length), the first of which is Mother Tongue, the fastest paced track from the album, which harnesses the energy produced from tribal and world percussion. Just before two minutes in length, the instruments are halted, and revert to a much slower pace, allowing Gerrard’s sublime vocals to emerge from the shadows. They still, however, take a back seat to the foreign and spiritual percussion, which forever drive the song. The album ends with Ullyses, and Perry has managed to outdo all his previous work on an epic scale, in a wonderful combination of rhythmic percussion and an odd pious lyricism telling the tale of Ullyses. Needless to say, it is a track that solidifies the album as a ‘must download’.

The Serpent’s Egg is an amazing album for many reasons. Firstly, the band has managed to develop their niche of music, despite the possibility that the idea could have been stretch beyond itself after Within the Realm of a Dying Sun. Instead, the group has changed their sound subtlety to make each new album worth visiting, but they have also developed their production values and taste with more experience. Delivering from the very first punch, the album does not let go, and the listener is forced to experience all 36 glorious minutes, and as a result is left in disbelief.

The Host Of Seraphim (6:18)
Orbis De Ignis (1:35)
Severance (3:22)
The Writing On My Father's Hand (3:50)
In The Kingdom Of The Blind The One-Eyed Are Kings (4:11)
Chant Of The Paladin (3:48)
Song Of Sophia (1:24)
Echolalia (1:17)
Mother Tongue (5:16)
Ullyses (5:09)


In a Few Words: Gerrard offers the standout, but Perry owns the album.
Best tracks: The Host of Seraphim, Severance, In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Are Kings, Mother Tongue and Ullyses.
Running time: ~36 minutes
Favourite Lyrics:
“You can see our chaos in motion”

Rating – 10/10
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