Into Oblivion – Winds of Serpentine Ascension EP (2020)

Winds of serpentine ascension
Rend these ashen clouds
That mar the visage of our days
And make our linens as shrouds

The zealot casts asunder
Our Gods graven in stone
Words that once sanctified
Are to our lips forsworned

Our grain is not ours to eat
Our bulls for tribute are yoked
Our mothers look with despair
On hearths that go unstoked

A cold bed greets our wives
With the ghost of a memory
That sighs its empty breath
Into dreams not meant to be

Our children’s faces in the murk
Are limned with fear and dust
And grow old before our eyes
As the sun fades in the dusk

The sun may rise elsewhere
To flay terrors of the night
But these ashen clouds above
Keep from us its light

Winds of serpentine ascension
Carry us in your train
Make us the sword you wield
To sever the enemy in twain

(*’The Shattering Ascent’ and ‘Eagle of the Serpent Sun’ are likely to be re-recordings)

The above is inspired from the name of the latest Into Oblivion EP, and while it isn’t after the free-verse, esoteric nature of the band’s lyrics, the sound of the new EP immediately evoked many of the same themes. Winds of Serpentine Ascension is both the most accessible and the most stirring effort yet from this band. The accessibility doesn’t mean the band has forgone long song lengths; the EP is still three songs and runs over thirty-four minutes, with the deliberate narrative development that one has come to expect from Into Oblivion.

Pure heavy metal has always been an outstanding influence in the band’s music, inextricably weaved into even the most belligerent sections, but even so there is a pronounced sylvan spirit to these songs, alternatingly light and dark, building on the epic romantic tendencies of 90s doom metal. The long cascading-like-a-river guitar solo on ‘Shattering Ascent‘ brings to mind an even more hallowed forebear in Mark Shelton (R.I.P.), while the twenty-minute long ‘Eagle of the Serpent Sun‘ might quite simply be the finest metal song heard this year. Every bit as grandiose as the title suggests, this is a case-study in how to play contained yet intensely harmonic heavy metal. The electric guitars play only slightly divergent melodies, offsetting rhythm with lead, but what emerges after contributions from bows, strings, and choirs is a supercharged molotov cocktail of feeling that approaches genre landmarks like ‘Into Glory Ride‘, ‘One Rode to Asa Bay‘, ‘The Red in the Sky is Ours‘, and ‘Lone Wolf Winter‘.

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