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Dead Can Dance - The Serpent's Egg CD (album) cover

THE SERPENT'S EGG

Dead Can Dance

 

Prog Folk

3.84 | 108 ratings

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Dobermensch
4 stars The most melancholic of all Dead Can Dance's albums, 'The Serpent's Egg' begins off with a huge slab of doom which many may recognise from a few UK TV documentaries - predictably revolving around the hardship of life in the far east and India. I used to love this track with its super deep vocals and echoey strings, but now it just brings me down. Maybe it's a sign of getting older, or perhaps it's just because there's so much bad news all around the world just now. Miserable music was far easier to take when I was in my twenties.

'Orbis de Ignis' is far lighter in instrumentation but is still enough to make you end up with your head in your hands.

Good old Brendan Perry puts in a vocal turn on 'Severance'. Like a cross between Sinatra and Scott Walker, he croons through this one beautifully as strings wail in the background. It's beat-less, like most of this album.

'The Writing on My Father's Hand' has the return of Lisa Gerrard on vocals. Softer and more religious with huge creepy reverb. No matter how much effect is added to her voice, the double and triple vocal tracking inevitably makes you think your'e listening to the 'Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares' female choir, who were at their peak at the same time.

'In the Kingdom of the Blind' is far more like it. A track that actually goes somewhere and introduces percussion unlike the 'circular' patterns of the previous tunes.

Talking of repetitive - 'Chant of the Paladin' might be enough to make you snap your cd in half with frustration. At least it's over within 4 minutes. That tune's a real dirge, with Welsh Druid-like chanting from 800AD and very repetitive percussion.

'The Serpent's Egg' is similar in many ways to the far superior 'Within the Realm', but this one sounds a lot 'thinner' and less beefy. A bit like comparing a bowl of gruel with a dishful of porridge in fact.

Things do pick up dramatically however, with the last few tracks which make me realise once again why I loved this band so much. All of a sudden robotic sounding fast paced percussion enters the fray culminating with the exceptionally wordy Perry track 'Ullyses', which is drenched in tons of reverb and almost sounds like it belongs on 'Spleen and Ideal', but with cello throbs replacing timpani snares as violas and violins fizz about like bees buzzing around your head.

I'm in the minority here, but I far prefer Brendan Perry's vocals to Lisa Gerrard's. It must be the 'Goth' in me. I can relate to his western sound. What I used to consider a dead cert 5 star recording is now reduced to 4, bordering on 3 simply due to the thoroughly depressing though beautiful Gerrard vocal.

Dobermensch | 4/5 |

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