AlbumsNovember 29, 20119,712 views

Struck By Lightning Serpents


01. Silent and Still 02. Nothing Sacred 03. The Watchful Eye 04. Supercell 05. Widowmaker 06. Tightening the Noose 07. Becoming Earth 08. Bottomless Pit 09. Collection of Teeth 10. False Hope 11. The Herd
2009 Translation Loss Records
Our score 7

by Nick
10/10/2009

Ohio's Struck by Lightning has gotten off to a rather impressive start. Their debut record, Serpents, is far more focused and fine-tuned than many debuts, a fact that might be attributed to Gregory Lahm's leading presence (Lahm's previous claim to fame was being a part of Mouth of the Architect's The Ties That Blind-era line-up), but it may also be linked to the reasonable assumption that these four dudes have simply put in a ton of listening hours with High on Fire, Mastodon, Disfear records. Serpents is a blend of all three, throwing together equal doses of sludgy grit, intelligent riffage, and punk rock fervor. In a way, it shares a lot of similarities to Kylesa's early, more crust-punk influenced days. The musical path isn't exactly unbeaten, but due to the anthem-like qualities of so many of these tracks, it's hard not to get excited about these guys. The formula here isn't terribly complex, as up-beat tempos, punk-influenced crossover drumming, and driving bass lines anchor the majority of the tracks. Leadoff track "Silent and Still" immediately hooks the listener with a strong melodic hook that leads into riffs sporting slightly thrashy rhythms. But it isn't until the track's first chorus that we are shown the disc's greatest asset: highly catchy, anthemic vocals. Serpents is densely populated with soaring, harmonized yells that are capable of upgrading even the most straightforward metal riff into something of near-epic proportions. "Supercell" and "Widowmaker" also stand out as record highlights. Both sport energetic d-beat backbones and thick metallic riffs, proving that when they do find that sweet spot in between Disfear's and High on Fire's songwriting styles, great things can happen. The only missed opportunity on the record is the limited variability in song structures. Aside from the interlude "Collection of Teeth," "Becoming Earth" is the only track that noticeably switches gears and plunges into slower, more groove-oriented territory. Playing around with the style might not have been one of the band's primary goals, but the song's main bass line alone is enough to warrant more activity in that songwriting area. Yes, the aforementioned sweet spot is definitely Struck by Lightning's bread and butter, but if one or two more tracks with the mentality of "Becoming Earth" were included and some of the more punk-oriented tracks were slimmed down (most hover around four and a half minutes, which can feel a little long at times), Serpents would emerge more well-rounded and stronger. After all, that variability is one of the reasons that High on Fire's Death Is This Communion turned out to be so fantastic. Am I requesting that Struck by Lightning follow one of their greatest influences even more closely Not quite. But I am hoping that in the future these dudes capitalize on some of those massive grooves that "Becoming Earth" hinted at to produce an album that destroys on more than one front. Bottom Line: Struck by Lightning's debut record, Serpents, offers up a terrific middle ground between High on Fire, Mastodon, and Disfear. Punk song structures with driving tempos, great metallic guitar work, and stellar vocal parts make this record hard to pass up. If the band takes this formula and works in a little more experimentation in the world of bigger grooves, they might just be capable of producing a record that meets or exceeds the high bar set by their slew of main influences.

9 comments

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First_ 10/10/2009 4:23:35 PM

First

Fur_Beach11_ 10/10/2009 4:55:40 PM

a 7 out of 10?? crazy..thats a first Nick

m00k_ 10/10/2009 6:49:42 PM

Not a fan of MOTA but this sounds interesting

Nicky Monstrosity_ 10/11/2009 1:07:43 AM

dis shit sux; it needz sum breakdownz!!!!!!11

zack_ 10/11/2009 5:17:39 AM

really solid record. don't have to be a mota fan since the only thing they have in common really is lahm

lordofthefuckingrim_ 10/11/2009 11:07:38 AM

I herd these d00ds were Vaegan and ride nice bikes. im down with that. *furiously strokes kitty* when the hell did I get a cat?

pinmud_ 10/11/2009 8:03:31 PM

album is great, really catchy

cantfakethepunk_ 10/12/2009 2:37:04 AM

i love big black weiners up my little butthole

ictalurid_ 11/12/2009 4:26:32 PM

just saw these dudes in chicago with sweet cobra--absolute destruction--these guys are f*cking great!