Since Pantera’s wave of fame in the 1990’s, groove thrash has exploded into the most modernized form of metal and continues to gain exposure due to its simple characteristics; however, this is a horrible notion, because it gives metal bands a green light to screw around with their sound and go mainstream. And as one could expect, the half-thrash movement is frequently used as an attempted cash-in by several extreme acts, and history always repeats itself with the same outcome.
The result of performing such a transformation is never a good thing, but trading an independent sound for a mindless groove is still a common reality for the average metalhead. For example, the Danish thrash/death faction Hatesphere recently underwent this deadly stunt in which groove thrash was their key tool for musical development, and that left one question: Could Hatesphere finally rid the world of the half-thrash curse with the groove-laden Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes? Sorry, but no.
Ironically, Hatesphere’s “Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes” is practically an identical match of this scorned genre. All the poor characteristics are intact: constant repetition, annoying screams, angst-ridden lyrics, and boring riffs with a faded presence of solos. You’ll also notice the dangerously-common chord progression amongst the riffs, and a percussion effort that sounds like a copy-paste job because of all the familiar patterns, fills, and situations in which the drumming is used.
If the horribly-bland instrumentation hasn’t pissed you off, then Jacob Bredahl’s vocals will. Bredahl’s awful screams are poorly-executed, and it clearly sounds like he has no prior experience as a yeller. Our shouting friend also must have been really mad during this album’s recording session, because his lyrics appeal to a teenager who just got grounded for eating too much candy when his parents told him to stop. Sarcasm aside, the lyrics are juvenile attempts to sound pissed off with an accidental dish of humor on the side. Here’s a great example: “I’m fed up with your bullsh*t! I’m fed up with your lies!” All I can say is ditto.
Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes is a pseudo-Pantera copy at its core, but don’t get your knickers all twisted, because Hatesphere occasionally makes the best out of such minimalism. Being a shredding whore, I was quite bummed by the poor (if any) leads presented in this record’s first chuck of tunes, but the final tracks present some ripping solos that are totally stunning and epic. Also, Dennis Buhl’s cymbals sound wonderfully-crisp and heavy whilst the rare growls of Bredahl are quite enjoyable when he dips into other vocal situations besides screaming. Please be aware these good sections are quite rare, and you’ll likely enjoy only a portion of what’s offered.
Depending on such a weak genre isn’t a very good choice, and Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes unsurprisingly suffers from the lack of creativity, substance, and writing ability that usually comes with the acceptance of half-thrash. Hatesphere’s other records are very good, and it is quite surprising they went off course with something like this. Not recommended.