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


Dead Can Dance


Prog Folk

3.89 | 171 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars While it may seem minimalist on first listen, The Serpent's Egg is an incredibly deep and emotional album filled to the brim with primeval musical qualities that forces the listener to descend completely into its oppressed atmosphere.

First of all, anyone who doesn't approve of olden vocal music such as Thomas Tallis or Hildegard von Bingen most likely will not enjoy this album (or any of Dead Can Dance's albums). Featured prominently in this music is Lisa Gerrard's powerful and tortured yet soothing vocals that either blast through or float pleasantly among walls of depressed string orchestration that drone with subtle changes like a severely slowed down interpretation of Samuel Barber's infamously sad "Adagio for Strings" -- this is represented very strongly in the opening track, "The Host of Seraphim", which is vaguely middle Eastern but mostly gives off mental images of debilitating depression affecting the masses to the point where tears and death are simply commonplace.

But, as with most Dead Can Dance albums, Brendan Perry also has his vocal moments. "Severance" features his goth-tinged voice trudging atop comfortably droning organ, but the song overall almost has a pop accessibility to it, though I'd be surprised if it were ever played on the radio.

Aside from being primarily slow, droning, medieval folk-influenced music, there are some spots on the album where the pace is picked up a bit, such as "Chant of the Paladin" which is (relatively) more active, featuring a powerful percussion rhythm and low-registered strikes on the bowed instruments while Lisa Gerrard provides hypnotizing vocals that are basically musical emotionally disconnected cries. "Echolalia" is another relatively active composition, but it's a bit more wild and eccentric in its ethnic vocal decisions and quickly passes by without even establishing an emotional grab. "Mother Tongue" is one of the true standouts on this album, featuring a driving rhythm on jungle-esque percussion and a jarring rhythmic staccato melody before breaking off into slower, contemplative, tense, and darker territory that sounds like cave music -- this entire song will sound very comfortable to fans of the Turok: Dinosaur Hunter soundtrack.

The Serpent's Egg might not be the most accessible album that uses medieval folk inspiration, but it is very beautiful and should invoke (primarily negative) emotions as well as sleep. If you're looking for primeval music with a strong modern twist that can easily drown out any trace of happiness in your psyche (in a good way), then this is for you.

colorofmoney91 | 4/5 |


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