Oakland certainly has no shortage of blackened, thrashy sludge bands, from the likes of High on Fire and Black Cobra going back to some of the pioneers of sludge and doom—Noothgrush, Neurosis, Sleep et al. This particular outfit, Serpent Crown, has been around since ’08, but they’ve completely flown under my radar until now, as this is just their second album.
Incantations of Vengeance stuffs six tracks onto a 27-minute cassette, starting with “Uncertain Life Uncertain Death,” which goes from a Noothgrush-style slow intro to breakneck thrashy punk a la Exodus, albeit with a bit more bile in the vocal department, before slowing down to a mid-paced sludgy stomp. “Conjurings of the Damned” is low ‘n slow from the get-go, with some death-metal kick drumming on prominent display.
“Vengeance of the Witch” is very much in the vein of HOF or even Goatwhore, though the lack of bass in the mix makes this a little more black-metal sounding. “Bloodmoon” offers a cleaner vocal and a chunky stop-start riff that could induce slow-motion moshing—ditto “Wings of Retribution.” They’ve really got this blackened sludge sound down pat.