Album: Serpent’s Tongue – EP
If you’re religiously inclined, then you may believe what the Book of Genesis states as the source of evil on earth. In the tale of Adam and Eve, the seeds of temptation—which grew into saplings we know today as hate, mistrust and self-loathing—were sewn by a serpent. Since then, they have become popular images for malevolence and evil; and the words they speak are those with no clear meaning that lead to acts of violence and betrayal. Even if you aren’t a religious person, you’ve heard the fable—and if the serpent’s tongue is the source of bitterness among men, then the debut EP by Devthbed couldn’t have a better name. The band’s debut six-track EP is sinister from start to finish, expertly combining excruciating misanthropy with self-deprivation and disgust. A combination of quick, furious metalcore and bouncy, groovy nu-metal, Serpent’s Tongue is a sentence with countless meanings—but not one of them kind or generous.
Devthbed take insidious groove and combine it with intense heaviness for a nu-tinted metalcore experience that will stay stuck in the listener’s head for days. Every aspect of the band’s musicianship is designed to be simultaneously catchy and crushing—from the opening salvo of “Deceit” to the infectious closing track, “Parasite.” Percussionist Clay Mapelli is a master at providing a solid foundation for the band—with the opening of “Parasite” showcasing his proficiency at punchy, groovy patterns, as the climactic breakdowns of “Serpent’s Tongue” and “Guilt” showcasing his more sinister side. Mapelli never steals the spotlight—never dazzling the listener with over-the-top technicality—but he does provide a powerful platform for the remainder of Devthbed to built upon, especially considering how well he works with bassist Casey Benz. Benz provides a bustling, pummeling low end that adds depth and resonance to Mapelli’s kick drum, but also serves as a firmament for guitarists Kristian Campos and Charlie Sterba to work with. Benz’s low tone on “Deceit” smooths transitions into the song’s bombastic breakdowns—where Campos and Sterba drop from bouncy, bold grooves to bone-grinding chugs. “Serpent’s Tongue” does this excellently as well—with Campos and Sterba oscillating back and forth between catchy riffs and crushing heaviness with practiced ease.
Where Devthbed’s musicianship draws from a sprawling array of influences, the band’s vocal effort is distinctly more focused and heavily channels a contemporary nu-metal and metalcore style. Frontman Ty Ignacio lets loose with a shrill, bitter belted shout that scrapes away the listener’s sanity like pulling old wallpaper from an abandoned home. From the first screams of “Deceit,” Ignacio does a great job of providing an almost-insane vocal style that sounds like a man on his deathbed at the end of his wits. Ignacio’s range—while limited in scope—occasionally drops into devilish lows or harsh roars, giving listener’s variety in his vicious vocal onslaught. Furthermore, “Serpent’s Tongue” provides an excellent guest vocalist for even more variety, reappearing several times throughout the track like a persistent night terror, never letting the listener rest. “Guilt” sees Ignacio expanding with the rest of Devthbed, soaring into a strung-out cleanly sung chorus that is gritty, but just smooth enough to stay stuck in the listener’s short term memory.
Devthbed’s debut EP is straightforward, quickly establishing a sound of their own and running with it. Where the first three tracks—especially “Guilt”—are nothing short of brilliant, the latter three see the band dipping into a slump. Where the “Dark Room” interlude is cool once, it still seems absolutely unnecessary—with only five full tracks, a “break” seems unnecessary and almost entirely skippable. Furthermore, “Mirage” is unremarkable—not bad, but not memorable other, and while “Parasite” starts very strong, it also falls off towards the end, making it hard for the listener to keep a grip on their interest. However, where Serpent’s Tongue has some room for improvement, it is mostly masterful; an absolutely excellent debut release. With the three opening tracks serving as a terrific trifecta, Devthbed are a band far from knocking on death’s door—rather, they are the dark poltergeist, armed with a scythe comprised of sinister grooves and sharp riffs, with an abyssal appetite for aggression and brutality, Serpent’s Tongue is the first installment of a band with a hopeful future.
For Fans Of: Lordis, VCTMS, We Have Been Compromised, Sworn In
By: Connor Welsh