Death 'n' roll is a very flip-flop genre to most metalheads, yet Entombed seem to be the undisputed champion of the style, and a typically good band overall. I mean they have a lot of classics like Left Hand Path and Wolverine Blues to name a few, but could they always last on the same boat without finding themselves devoured by the waves of death metal or tossed away from the winds of hard rock? Regardless of what some predict, one thing's for sure: they screwed up on this one.
Believe it or not, one of the most consistent and original acts in metal has finally succumbed to mediocrity. After eight successful records, Entombed have lost control and now sound like their own tribute band with 2007's Serpent Saints---The Ten Amendments. Entombed has always thrived upon creativity within the group's identity, but it's completely lost in space with this record, and the conjured problems are certainly absolute. The creators of death 'n' roll have finally sucked out every last drop from the originality well, and it really shows here.
Normal Coke (the soda, you junkie) is filled with tasty sweetness and mouth-watering flavor due to calories caused by sugar. However, its diet version has no sugar, which exiles all taste and makes it weak; this is much like Entombed's originality on past efforts and here on Serpent Saints as well. For one, the real death 'n' roll sound should have forceful rock riffs with pestering shades of death metal, yet this not found on Serpent Saints due to a generic overtone of groove riffs and a dubbed-down technicality on the guitars. Also, the percussion only presents simplistic patterns without any fills or exciting changes; something the old Entombed thrived on.
However, there are some noteworthy qualities that bring up the sinking effort, like Lars Petrov's vocals for instance. Petrov has become the golden calf in the death 'n' roll cult because of his uncanny ability to penetrate the earth with his low voice without sounding out of place; it's the same story here. Lars comes off as a typical growler, yet he's able to control the pitch of his voice so he doesn't go too deep, and it benefits this record entirely. He's really progressed as a vocalist, and I think Serpent Saints is definitely one of his best performances to date. Sadly, for all Petrov does well, he has one flaw that's beyond his control: those dreadful lyrics.
A decent amount of things are hindering the overall success of Serpent Saints, yet Entombed's lack of lyrical brilliance unquestionably wins the prize in that department. Known for defecating on the art of poetry, Entombed continue the lifelong crusade of writing some of the most unintentionally-humorous compositions known to man. Take these keepers for instance:
"When in Sodom
You Bend over Quick
Here Let Me Guide
Your Little Stick" -- "When in Sodom."
Guide your stick?
"We Love it Like You Love Jesus
It Does the Same Thing to our Souls
We Got a Lifelong Love for the Occult!" "Masters of Death."
"You Wanna Hurt Me?
You Wanna Bite My Cock?
You're Gonna Make Me Run
Seriously, this is some funny stuff. If you enjoy a good chuckle, I suggest you listen to Petrov's voice: you'll either fall to the floor laughing, or find yourself passed out from a similar situation.
To summarize, Entombed's ninth full-length offering is quite 'blah' in comparison to their older works. Entombed have established a reputation throughout their existence, and that bar should always be leveled no matter what; however, they've failed to capture their own potential with Serpent Saints. I guess it's worth looking into if you're a fan of the death 'n' roll thing, yet I feel (as a big fan of the genre, mind you) that Serpent Saints is scrapping the bowels of Entombed's gift to the world, and the stench isn't very sweet. Don't bother unless you're a very, very dedicated fan.