I, VOIDHANGER RECORDS
PRESENTS










 



JARNO NURMI
all instruments and voices


SERPENT ASCENDING
THE ENIGMA UNSETTLED

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FORMAT:
CD    CATALOG N. IVR-007


1. The Mournful Pilgrimage - Part 1 (2:20)
2. Saturnal (3:57)
3. The Human Ladders (3:30)
4. The Mournful Pilgrimage - Part 2 (3:58)
5. The Entwinement (4:22)
6. World Of Flesh On Bone (4:04)
7. Serpent Ascending (3:05)
8. The Enigma Unsettled (3:43)
9. Endless Initiations (4:34)

Total time 33:35

Recorded and mixed by Tommi Grönqvist and Jarno Nurmi. All songs by Jarno Nurmi.

Released September 1st, 2011

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CD + T-Shirt bundle available
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Coming from Helsinki, Finland, SERPENT ASCENDING is the dark projection of Jarno Nurmi, appreciated bass/guitar player and singer in bands like Slugathor, Desecresy, Nerlich, Night Must Fall, and Nowen.

Firmly rooted in the old school of death metal, but far from being another sterile revival of the late 80's/early 90's, Serpent Ascending started a peculiar creative process that allocates death metal into an inner - yet still nightmarish - dimension of the soul, where cavernous growls lay down on nervous and slanted guitar riffs, vertiginous bass grooves, sudden bursts of speed, and swampy slowdowns. Apparently simple and straight to the point, Serpent Ascending's music hides a remarkable work on subtle harmonies and flowing songwriting, with atmospheric nuances and intriguing details that crawl unseen into each song as well as in the listener's subconscious, bringing forth a hallucinating, twisted and occult vibe.

Serpent Ascending is the feverish, solipsistic delirium of an artist that renovates the true spirit and typical dark heaviness of Finnish death metal in his own, personal way.


With The Enigma Unsettled, the Finnish occult death metal band SERPENT ASCENDING offers a supremely dark experiment in satanic and mesmerizing music conducted on a primitive metal matter by Jarno Nurmi of Slugathor, Desecresy, and Nerlich fame.
The album collects both the Serpent Ascending and The Mournful Pilgrimage recordings from 2009 and 2010 on one record, together with a brand new song.
The Enigma Unsettled comes as a luxurious CD slipcase, accompanied by a 20-page full color booklet containing all the lyrics and stunning paintings by new sensational American artist Wiley Trieff.

 

        

VENOMOUS SOUNDS

 


SATURNAL



THE ENTWINEMENT


 

        

SERPENT ASCENDING : DISCOGRAPHY



THE ENIGMA UNSETTLED  (I, Voidhanger Records, 2011)

The Mournful Pilgrimage  (demo, 2010 - unreleased)

Serpent Ascending  (demo, 2009)

        

THE ENIGMA UNSETTLED : REVIEWS




CHRONICLES OF CHAOS
Review by Chaim Drishner

Here's yet another quality release from the house of I, Voidhanger Records. You would have to see it for yourself in order to fathom the extent of work involved in producing a fine booklet with those wonderful illustrations inside and on the covers; the package, the cardboard sleeve, all elaborately illustrated, covered with morbid, mysterious scenes and figures, along the lines of Weapon's or Nightbringer's artwork; dark horizons used as the perfect visual set for the music, the main actress, the fucking starlet, and it, in turn, corresponds willingly with its Stygian soundscapes.
Appreciate the artwork, read the fucking lyrics, appreciate the effort; they are an indivisible part of the album, whether you like it or not. Packages like the one this album comes in pay respect not only to the artist, but also to you, the consumer. Remember that.
Having said that, we're all serious and intelligent adults here, paying attention not to the facade but rather to the content of our music, and we never judge a book by its cover, right? In the case of I, Voidhanger releases you can judge an album by its cover and not lose a moment of sleep over it, as they walk hand in hand, the masterful artwork and the (usually) exquisite music. In the case of Serpent Ascending however, describing this Finnish one-man band's music as being exquisite would be a tad far-fetched; after all, we're dealing here with what is so-called old-school death metal, and this sub-genre of metal is anything but exquisite.
Earthly, yes; rotten, maybe; dark, definitely; subterranean, indeed; but also morbid, monolithic and punishing; these are far better adjectives that might describe the music of _The Enigma Unsettled_. Exquisite this music is not.
Coming from the age of old-school-ism myself, I have never understood the charm, the magic of this Neanderthal sound, the appeal of these cavemen-derived tunes on the masses. I guess it has something to do with the nostalgia factor that betters and ornaments any mundane and mediocre album out there. I think the majority of bands of today are better, more innovative, talented, daring and intelligent compared to these puke-gulpers of old, seriously. And it shows in the music. Of course there were exceptions which I'm not going to mention here, but they were few and far between. On the other hand, If they only had bands like Serpent Ascending...
The curiosity that is this Finnish one-man-band takes old-school into the extreme realm of primitivism, yet with an evolved, high sense of songwriting. Jarno Nurmi, the sole artist, strips metal bare-naked, takes the scaffold, the barren skeleton and dances with it. The music here is deadly, primitive yet supreme in its simple and direct delivery of tsunamis of brutish riff upon a riff of maximum distortion bliss and endless strumming. Beauty of ugliness is being born here, ugliness that illustrates the death of innocence and with it the death of the old times. The music never loses its grip on melody, and due to the fact it is mostly slow-delivered, it has even a greater impact on the listener with its doom-like vibes.
Ironically, this could also mean the end of old-school death metal, because what's next, after the ultimate, perfect mock-imitation album has been recorded, sounding more old-school than most genuinely old-school bands that ever walked the earth? What's next after the perfect death metal album of old -- the most primitive and yet beautiful in its own twisted way -- has seen the light of day in the science-fictional post-modern year of 2011? Sounding better, heavier, a ton more interesting and satisfying than the very ambassadors and godfathers of old-school death metal; what would that say about the whole sub-genre? Wouldn't the very concept of old-school-ism crumble and fall? Wouldn't an album like _The Enigma Unsettled_, having been recorded by a long-haired musician who's probably in his early twenties, redefine what is old and what is new?
The very meaning of old-school has stopped being relevant upon hearing this monster, because _The Enigma Unsettled_ can be judged only by its own qualities, devoid of nostalgia or any other biasing factor. This album epitomizes death metal. Period. Never mind whether old or new, this is death metal. Slow, bellowing, shuddering, thundering, morbidly melodic and as heavy as a freight-train. It is highly accurate in where it delivers what, and does not leave room for error or for chance. Everything here is prearranged, preordained, meticulously calculated and perfectly balanced.
It might be that this very balance of elements does the trick. Or the fact this music still retains its beauty and appeal in the face of its reductionist flair and minimalism attribute. Every lover of genuinely good death metal, the way it was supposed to be, having atmosphere, depth, violence, darkness and a supreme sense of melody, would be advised to give this beautiful beast a chance. Fuck the old school -- all Hail Serpent Ascending!

[8,5 out of 10]

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DAMNED BY LIGHT
Review by M

Serpent Ascending is a medium for Jarno Nurmi (known from Nerlich, Desecresy and Slugathor) to express his occult and satanic beliefs. This CD compiles the death metal project's sole officially released demo from 2009, his previously unreleased demo from 2011, and one brand new song "The Entwinement" that was recorded especially for this compilation. An LP-version is supposed to follow.
The basis of Serpent Ascending hasn't gone through radical changes since the debut demo, it's just matured. The songs of "The Mournful Pilgrimage" are a bit slower than I expected, changing between mid-tempo to way slower spheres, as well as to occasional blasting. The steady drumming with heavy double bass use is clearly in a supportive role, and the pounding bass with a very tasty sound is a bit too buried amidst the guitars to unleash all it's got. Thus, the harsh, heavy and organic guitar is in the lead, along with the deep growls. The guitar riffs draw their strength from the heritage of Bolt Thrower, but have such an amount of weight on the occult atmospheric side that they sound original. The songs aren't of the "instant hit"-type or too moshable; they're dark and brooding, and if someone said they have a subtle middle-eastern vibe I wouldn't blame them.
The new songs show how much the artist has gone forward on his path. The atmospheres are stronger, the songs' different elements more tightly tied together, and they have more originality than the band's earlier demo presented. The instrumental fourth song has an exceptionally strong dark atmosphere, which bodes well for SA's future. The same goes for the newest piece "The Entwinement," which is a slightly harsher song. It has some really tasty slow leads and a lot of appeal, but brings out the vocals in a less flattering way. The growled vocals suit the music, but need more confidence and vigor.
I have already reviewed the '09-demo here, so there is no need to go through it again. The songs have a newly adjusted soundscape, though, which makes them sound quite a lot better than they did earlier. Even though the album consists of material from three different sessions, there isn't any major changes from one part to another. One can listen to the album in one continuous session without worrying about sudden interruptions.
I don't want to spoil too much from those who are buying the album, but I'll say this: the both colourful and dark visual side is stunning, and I'd gladly see its paintings as larger ones - which will hopefully be possible when the LP-version is released. The paintings have a lot of detail to gaze upon, and give a new depth to the album's atmosphere and lyrical side. The lyrics deal with becoming one with Satan through his trials and finding ways to channel his power, seeing beyond the material world into a spiritual one, and finding one's own will through self-exploration and devotion - growth and transformation. The texts are honest and seem to be personal to their writer, yet they have a lot to give to those willing to study them.
Serpent Ascending is a highly promising band, and it's undeniable that a lot of effort has gone to the making of this compilation. It demonstrates the band's strongest points, shows SA's core form and character, and displays its demo-roots to those who haven't heard of the band before. Still, the soundscapes have their problems, and the songs are of uneven quality. If the band will retaliate with a stronger soundscape (mostly regarding the drums and bass) and an equal amount of dedication as they've presented this far, there's no telling what they can achieve. Serpent Ascending is going forward, without a doubt.
[7,5 out of 10]

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ARISTOCRAZIA
Review by Mourning

Se c'è una cosa che mi fa rabbrividire è il valutare i dischi senza entrarvi dentro, senza provare ad andare oltre la schematica delle composizioni musicali o peggio ancora dando un ascolto alla cazzo e dicendo: ok, album canonico, sei e via.
I Serpent Ascending li avevamo già incrociati, avevo avuto il piacere di chiacchierare tramite email con Jarno Nurmi mentore del progetto e di scrivere la recensione del demo omonimo rilasciato nel 2009.

L'artista finlandese conosciuto per la sua presenza in act quali Slugathor, Nerlich, Nowen e Desecresy ha raggiunto un accordo con un'etichetta nostrana, la I, Voidhanger, seria, preparata su quello che è l'underground più tetro e ritualistico e che si è messa a disposizione con volontà e rispetto della proposta curata dal monicker, ciò che questo connubio ha partorito è analizzabile e assolutamente godibile nel full-lenght di debutto intitolato "The Enigma Unsettled".
Perché lodare così quest'accoppiata? Perchè leggendo ciò che ho trovato in rete per informarmi su tale uscita ho notato un pressapochismo disarmante, non so quanto abbiano fatto girare o meno nel lettore quest'album, non so quanta attenzione sia stata prestata a un artwork dai toni foschi, minacciosi, inquadrante perfettamente il percorso oscuro e intriso di fattore evocativo intrapreso in passato e divenuto ancor più sinistro e inesorabilmente lastricato di pietre nere. Ciò che posso assicurarvi è che questo disco è tutt'altro che l'ennesima prestazione standard di una qualsiasi band death metal, è l'essenza stessa dei pezzi a fare la differenza.
Certo le coordinate stilistiche che avevano segnato in maniera palese il "demo" rimangono invariate assumendo però una maggiore densità e un aspetto cinereo sia nelle movenze classicamente death, sia in quelle tendenti ad aumentare l'apporto groove e le profondità esplorate grazie a varianti al limite col doom, in egual maniera è stata mantenuta quella forma melodica che serpeggiando striscia malevola.
La coerenza nel portare avanti un sound e una determinata impostazione mentale correlata a un pensiero indirizzato a un viaggio esoterico non può che essere un punto a favore dei Serpent Ascending.
In termini prettamente musicali il death metal con cui ammorbano l'ascoltatore è quanto di più marcio, elementarmente bello e intrigante un appassionato di old school possa ritrovarsi fra le mani, è arrangiato e studiato per entrare in contatto con la parte più istintiva e libera del genere e soprattutto come si fa a non accorgersi del netto cambio di marcia all'interno del platter? Sì, perché "Enigma Unsettled" sembra diviso in due, dall'opener "The Mournful Pilgrimage - Part 1" a "The Entwinement" abbiamo a che fare con il lato più recitativo e insano, arrivati a "World Of Flesh On Bone" e quindi alla sezione che riprende le canzoni inserite nella "demo", adesso fornite di una produzione di livello decisamente superiore, le ritmiche divengono più frenetiche dando libero sfogo alle sensazioni carnali, se ne saranno resi conto alcuni ascoltandolo? Da ciò che ho avuto il dispiacere di leggere assolutamente no, perché dare attenzione a simili stupidaggini, non sia mai.
"The Enigma Unsettled" è ciò che gli anni Ottanta e Novanta c'hanno lasciato in eredità, è quel death metal suonato con esecuzione naturale, privo di forzature in cui sono escluse sovrastrutture in fase compositiva e nell'operato dietro il mixer che rendono freddi, omogenei e sin troppo "già sentiti" tantissimi dei cloni che ci offrono prove di old school che poi tanto "old" non è.
Mettete da parte qualsiasi pregiudizio, mettete da parte la mentalità usa e getta di moda odiernamente e prendetevi il tempo per aprire un varco nella dimensione dei Serpent Ascending, se è vero che siete amanti dell'epoca d'oro e delle sue introspezioni più maligne non vi esenterete dall'acquistarlo.

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METALLIZED
Review by Michele Criscione

La concezione del death metal, scevra dalle evoluzioni e dai tecnicismi; l'essenza del male fatta musica, senza fronzoli nè ricercatezze; una visione senza tempo, un' idea.
Riusciamo ancora ad avere un' idea esatta del death metal?
Ecco un album che trasuda cattiveria e malvagità, il debut dei finlandesi, pardon del finlandese Serpent Ascending (per l'anagrafe Jarno Nurmi, che già alcuni di voi conosceranno), dedito ad un death metal molto decadente venato da momenti decisamente atmosferici, quasi doom, e da melodie glaciali. Un album targato 2011 che si concilia con la storia e la genesi dei death metal, e per questo bisogna con gratularsi con la nostrana I, Voidhanger Records.
In realtà trattasi delle due demo della band, per l' occasione riunite nel debut album, ed in effetti si notano chiaramente due momenti ben distinti: il primo più atmosferico, il secondo più feroce, divisi dall' unico brano inedito, The Entwinement. Atmosfere create senza sofisticazioni, solo tramite ispirazione sentita, e non è poco, credetemi. Una one man band esaltante, forse perché le idee vanno in un' unica direzione senza discussioni.
Un' aura nera serpeggia (è proprio il caso di dirlo) in tutte le tracce e per tutti i circa 33 minuti di durata dell' album. Death metal vecchia scuola, di qualità, sporco e volgare, sofferto e implacabile. Certo di difetti a volerne trovare ce ne sono, ma essendo un debutto non si può pretendere la perfezione; dirò di più, tutte le imperfezioni di The Enigma Unsettled concorrono a rendere quest'album vivo, vero; oggigiorno forse un lusso, tra plastica e finzione (World of Flesh on Bone). Un album di una semplicità disarmante per come riesce a risultare efficace, sin dall' intro The Mournful Pilgrimage (Part 1).
I paragoni diretti vanno cercati nella conterranea scena finnica (primi Demigod, e compagnia bella), ma il primo gruppo che mi è venuto in mente per la capacità di creare atmosfere molto evocative e selvagge con semplicità sono stati gli Absu di Barathrum V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (anche se si viaggia a velocità decisamente differenti); altri paragoni si possono fare, concedetemi un altro azzardo, anche con i Neurosis (ovviamente con le dovute distanze) per alcune idee sviluppate nelle parti più lente e riflessive (su tutti i brani la strumentale The Mournful Pilgrmage (Part 2)).
Riff glaciali e primitivi, arpeggi grezzi, drumming lineare ma sempre azzeccato, vocals indemoniate, e tanta anima oscura, questo è tutto ciò che contiene The Enigma Unsettled: niente di nuovo sotto il cielo plumbeo e freddo della Finlandia.
E non mai quanto adesso il piacere di ascoltare un album così durante una gelida notte siciliana (forse la più fredda che io ricordi da qualche anno a questa parte) mi proietta direttamente nella Scandinavia dove tutto ebbe origine.

[80 out of 100]

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SPUTNIK MUSIC
Review by
Andy H.B.

Serpent Ascending's The Enigma Unsettled is a finely hidden gem within the 2011 metal scene, adding yet another chapter to the fabled Finnish death metal division. Essentially combining elements of Depravity's Silence of the Centuries and at other locations slowing down to the murky depths of Slugathor and Stench of Decay, The Enigma Unsettled is very much a conglomerate of the sounds of this particularly rotten death metal scene and a pleasant surprise for the weary and uncompromising heeder.
Thrashy and at times infusing sinister melodies, solo act Jarno Nurmi's guitar work is exemplary throughout the album, going from trampling up-tempo riff fests to plodding, grungy doom with relative ease. Similarly, his drum and cymbal display is adequate and pummeling in it's delivery and, during some sections, the bass shines through as well, for example on the third track, "The Human Ladders". Possibly the most clear element of the music is his barreling and trudging growl, combining the styles of Rami Jämsä (Convulse) and Jarkko Rantanen (Adramelech), and which is set up at the forefront of the production and intimidates at every turn. He adds in a bit of a puking, shredded tone into the grunt at times, which increases the diversity without changing pitch much, as if he is having hydrochloric acid, like that time you accidentally spilled it in your classroom and burnt a hole through the desk, poured down his throat or having just one too many drinks the previous night and kneeling in front of the ***ter, groaning after throwing up the past fourteen times.
Grumbling his way through the album, Nurmi proficiently displays the traits that make his country's death metal among the top scenes in the world for malodorous musicianship, when it appears the album may be softening up just a tad, it sinks back into the realms of describing whats on the album cover (Quoting Vesper: "It looks like one of those weird slide puzzles except Satan style") in a not-so-watered down fashion. Production brings out the music effectively, adding just the right amount of clarity while maintaining the old school fuzziness and edge that purists desire and enough to keep them crawling back for more.
The Enigma Unsettled should give Finnish death fans something to cheer about, combining several aforementioned techniques of other successful bands within the scene and adding a touch of originality to avoid falling into the depths of repetitiveness. Personally, I look forward to hearing more from Jarno in the future, because he certainly has something going here. If those of you who wondered what it might have been like for Depravity to release a full length, this album may just give a glimpse into just that proposition.

Summary: Solid like a certain appendage after looking through some Holly Peers pictures.
[4 out of 5 - Excellent]

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VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE
Review by
Luxi Lahtinen

An invasion of Finnish retro Death Metal bands continues - part-lost-my-count-already. SERPENT ASCENDING is a creation of Jarno Nurmi who plays all instruments and does the vocals in SERPENT ASCENDING, and who has previously earned his spurs in such bands as NERLICH, NOWEN, SLUGATHOR, NIGHT MUST FALL and DESECRESY. Having all this history with both his other current and ex-bands, I think it has helped him somewhat drastically to envision what he wanted to achieve with SERPENT ASCENDING musically - and finding the right components to build up this specific sound around his band that actually does not surprise me a bit at all. The 90s was a true heyday for the Finnish underground Death Metal with bands like DEMIGOD, CONVULSE, FUNEBRE, SENTENCED, DEMILICH, ABHORRENCE, PHLEGETHON among many others - and I think Jarno has also well realized with SERPENT ASCENDING that those golden times could be cherished even a little more, hence SERPENT ASCENDING's existence is more than well-grounded based on Jarno's dedication and determination to create something in the early 90s vein; something that takes things back to the basics: creepy, murky, primitive and eerie atmospheres of early Finnish Death Metal that used to set the whole underground world on fire some 20 frigging years ago. Jarno's passion for this early sound of Finnish Death Metal is very evident when one gets to hear his works on "The Enigma Unsettled". Actually the first thing for me to notice is - even without knowing any facts about SERPENT ASCENDING, somehow how deeply 'Finnish' the band sounds like. I think I am not totally wrong if I have guts to state (and I have) that SERPENT ASCENDING's sound is closer to ABHORRENCE's / early AMORPHIS' and early DEMIGOD's sound than any other Finnish Death Metal acts from the early 90s period. SERPENT ASCENDING has very similar creepy and haunting melodies that were an integral part on ABHORRENCE's and early DEMIGOD's rehearsal / demo releases back in the day. The musical formula, that's been squeezed into Jarno's new band, has many of the same elements that both ABHORRENCE as well as DEMIGOD used so successfully within their grinding and eerie Death Metal in the early days of these bands' careers - only with one exception: gladly, a modern studio technology has also provided a good, suitable sound for this record to support the songs better, without any muddy sound like many demo bands tended to have in the early 90s. The vibe and feeling of those past times are still strongly present in the production of this record, the man himself in charge obviously paying a quite amount of careful attention to not having a too sterile and overly clean sound on this release, just to maintain his primal vision how SERPENT ASCENDING should actually sound like in the first place. Therefore it's very easy for me to say SERPENT ASCENDING's retro-ish, old school Death Metal - with a heavy 'done 100% the Finnish way' stamp put all over it, surely catapults the band towards homes of old school lovers of true Finnish Death Metal sound. It happened to me - and I bet your turn will come next, undoubtedly sooner than you could ever possibly expect it even.

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METAL MUSIC ARCHIVES
Review by Time Signature

Serpent Ascending's "The Enigma unsettled," which collects two previously released demos - namely, "Serpent Ascending" (2009) and "The mournful Pilgrimage" (2010) and also features a brand new track, has released a lot of praise from reviewers, and I can totally follow that.
The Finnish one-man band Serpent Ascending delivers devastating and dark old school death metal, which is primarily based on heavy and simple, but effective, intense riffs, many of which display a classic death metal character along the lines of Bolt Thrower from their heyday. And that point of departure is definitely not a bad thing, and the fact that a number of the tunes on this release are so heavy, that they border on being death-doom tunes which definitely does not make things worse. "The Enigma Unsettled" successfully blends intensity and dark atmosphere; and the atmospheric nature of the release is derived entirely from the music itself - the riffs, the tempos, the chords, the harmonies etc.
Thus, there are definitely many positive aspects to this release, but I do think that the production is too imbalanced with the vocals and drums, and bass, being more dominant than the guitars, which is a shame, since the guitars constitute the locus of a lot of the good stuff on this release.
Still, fans of old school death metal who do not care about pristine production should definitely check out "The Enigma Unsettled".

[3 out of 5]

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EMPIRE OF DEATH
Review by Kratos

Altra recensione, altra piccola perla proveniente dalla Finlandia. Recensione peraltro dedicata agli orfani degli Slugathor, perché i Serpent Ascending sono in realtà una one-man-band composta da Juarno Nurmi (ex-Slugathor, appunto) che, rimboccatosi le maniche e abbracciato tutti gli strumenti, ha deciso di proseguire il discorso della sua vecchia band con un death metal vecchia scuola massiccio e mortifero, fatto di chitarre coriacee, melodie intriganti e ritmiche mai eccessivamente veloci ma perfette per sfasciarsi il collo a suon di headbanging.
Va detto che questo “The Enigma Unsettled”, edito dall’etichetta italiana I, Voidhanger Records, altro non è che la raccolta dei due demo precedenti della band (“The Mournful Pilgrimage” e “Serpent Ascending”), più una composizione nuova di zecca (“The Entwinement”) posta a metà album e che fa da ponte fra le due vecchie opere; il risultato è un dischetto che contiene un lotto di canzoni estremamente coinvolgenti e dedite all’old-school più robusto e granitico della scuola finlandese.
La batteria macina tempi spesso e volentieri cadenzati, le chitarre scartavetrano come si deve tra riff spezzacollo e fraseggi che si rifanno, ovviamente, ai padri putativi Slugathor, il basso rende il suono ancora più rotondo, grosso e corposo, mentre il growling è tanto classico quanto irresistibile.
Insomma, il manuale del metallo della morte vecchia scuola è qui rispettato con una cura maniacale (tanto di cappello alla scelta dei suoni, enormi, graffianti e potenti ma non artificiosa) e riportato alla vita tramite una serie di brani intensi ed incazzati come “Saturnal” (dall’incidere più veloce rispetto alle altre) o “The Entwinement”, coriaceo mid-tempo dall’incredibile muro di chitarra.
Niente cadute di tono, il disco regge bene per l’intera durata e in men che non si dica, già all’intro “The Mournful Pilgrimage Part I”, il deathster si trova nella dimensione oscura dei Serpent Ascending, una dimensione soffocante dalla quale non potrà fare ritorno, almeno non prima che la monicker Track gli abbia frantumato le ossa con il suo riff portante, non prima che la vorticosa Title-Track gli abbia spappolato le budella, non prima che la conclusiva “Endless Initiations” gli abbia staccato lo spirito dalla carne.
Ottima la prova di Jarno dietro tutti gli strumenti, e semplicemente eccezionale l’artwork, uno dei più curati, originali ed intriganti che mi sia capitato di ammirare quest’anno.
Un bel debutto dunque, che si lascia ascoltare e riascoltare con immenso piacere, non un capolavoro del genere ma sicuramente una validissima new entry nel panorama old-school generale e nella scuola finlandese in particolare. Un lavoro caldamente consigliato a chi il death metal lo vuole grosso, brutto e cattivo.
[80 out of 100]

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METALITALIA
Review by Luca Pessina

I Serpent Ascending affondano le proprie radici nella Finlandia death metal dei primi anni ’90, caratterizzata da una dinamica scena purtroppo mai propriamente esplosa (eccezion fatta per gli Amorphis, poi comunque dedicatisi ad altre sonorità). In questi ultimi tempi, vari appassionati di quel panorama hanno tuttavia iniziato a imbracciare gli strumenti e a provare a rinverdire quei fasti underground, con il risultato che, poco a poco, si sta venendo a creare una nuova scena di tutto rispetto, che, dopo la consueta attività live, “comparsata” in compilation e pubblicazioni di demo ed EP, sta finalmente partorendo i primi full-length. Tra queste nuove realtà, vi sono appunto i Serpent Ascending, one man band fondata da Jarno Nurmi, polistrumentista già visto all’opera con Desecresy e Slugathor, fra gli altri. “The Enigma Unsettled” è il risultato delle esperienze e della passione del Nostro, tra death metal e thrash metal estremo variamente declinato. Nel corso dell’ascolto delle nove tracce, incontriamo piuttosto frequentemente soluzioni care a vecchie band finniche come Demigod e Convulse, ma possiamo individuare qua e là anche “spezie” statunitensi (Incantation in primis), fino appunto ad accenni più vicini a certo thrash teutonico; il tutto nel segno di una certa attenzione per la componente atmosferica, che si manifesta attraverso un grosso dispiego di lead di chitarra, di melodie macabre e di parentesi cadenzate e sinistre. Il disco scorre in maniera agevole e mette in mostra un notevole gusto sia nel riffing, sia nelle suddette melodie, queste ultime sempre azzeccate ed effettivamente utili a dare alle canzoni sapori diversi. Invece, convice poco la scelta di affidare le ritmiche a una drum machine: nonostante le chitarre mantengano la consueta corposità nordica, il disco a causa di questa decisione risulta un pochino freddo e non riesce a far emergere per intero tutta la sua considerevole carica occulta. Un intoppo certo non enorme, ma che ci auguriamo vivamente possa essere archiviato già sulla prossima release, perchè, con una batteria vera e dei suoni più caldi, “The Enigma Unsettled” si sarebbe con tutta probabilità guadagnato un posto fra gli hot album. Comunque, il consiglio di segnarvi da qualche parte questo nome è valido già da ora…
[7 out of 10]

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SEA OF TRANQUILLITY
Review by Jason Guest

Recently signed with I, Voidhanger Records, Serpent Ascending's first release for the label brings together two previously released demos, 2009's Serpent Ascending and 2010's The Mournful Pilgrimage, with a new song, 'The Entwinement', available in a CD slipcase with a 20-page booklet of artwork and lyrics. A project for which Jarno Nurmi can express his own satanic and occultic views, the tracks are a mass of twisted riffs interlaced with dark atmospheres. Nurmi's guitar work is very good, even outstanding at times, with the occasionally striking hook and melody making an appearance. The bass sits well in the mix, its audibility adding plenty of weight to the tracks and supporting the guitar lines to create dense textures. The drumming, though basic, supports the tracks well. The vocals remain the same throughout, the low, monotonous death growls barely deviating from the standard.
From 2010, 'The Mournful Pilgrimage', parts 1 and 2, are weighty, down temp dirges, both of which feature some interestingly bleak guitar melodies that wind their way through the mire of the weighty riffs. The complex structures of the fast and aggressive 'Saturnal' and 'The Human Ladders' with its slow, melodic middle section, are especially impressive, the tremolo riffs of both reinforced with dense double bass drum work. The songs from 2009 feature strong leads and the writing is less developed than the tracks from 2010. 'World of Flesh and Bone' is rich and dense, 'Serpent Ascending' equally so, as are 'The Enigma Unsettled' and Endless Initiations', making it difficult to identify either a strong or a weak track. Between the two demos, the 2009 tracks are generally better and, curiously, as is the sound. 'The Entwinement' is along the lines of the 2010 tracks with the riffs and weight akin to 'World of Flesh and Bone' and shows a distinct development in Nurmi's song writing and ability to blend atmosphere with brutality. Across all the tracks, there's room for improvement in the playing and the recording – they are demos after all – but that will no doubt be addressed on the next release. The Enigma Unsettled is an impressive collection of tracks that is intriguing enough to compel a listen to the second release. And if the sound quality is improved then Nurmi's musicianship will truly be allowed to shine.
[3,5 out of 5]

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FROM THE DUST RETURNED
Review by Autothrall

One of the first things that struck me in listening through Serpent Ascending's debut album is just how closely they live up to their name. Seriously, each time I closed my eyes while experiencing the band's old school, evil riffing gestures I was granted a vision of some snaking maneuver up some evil, pagan column of stone or a naked and terrified human sacrifice. The Finns have an ample supply of despotism and diabolical atmosphere without needing to foist any excess reverb or production tricks upon its audience. What you have is pure, unadulterated, raw death metal in its most primal, 90s form, with equal influence from the late 80s scenes of Florida and Sweden, in addition to a hint of Incantation and the Finnish forefathers you'd expect (Convulse, Demigod, and so forth).
Lot of low end, grim aesthetics being conjured up straight through the guitars and the ceaseless hammering of the double bass, and the 'climbing evil' motif is enforced through tracks like "The Human Ladders" or the slower, creeping pair of tunes dubbed "The Mournful Pilgrimage", one of which sets up the album's pacing. The vocals are brute and blunt, and admittedly they can grow monotonous, but for those seeking their fix of Onward to Golgotha, they're not so shabby. What's more, Serpent Ascending glaze their morbid ministrations with these atmospheric, elegant and minimalist lead sequences in the amazingly haunting molasses of "Saturnal", or the more complex and varied closer "Endless Initiations". But let me not mislead you into thinking that the album is all sloth, they have an upbeat side to them which emerges in the more heavily thrashing rhythms of "Serpent Ascending" itself, or "The Enigma Unsettled".
Unfortunately, there is a slight lack of inconsistency here, with some of the cruder tracks like "The Entwinement" bringing up the qualitative rear, even if they themselves have a strong notion of internal atmosphere. I could go on listening to "Saturnal", "The Enigma Unsettled" and "Endless Initiations" repeatedly. They are some of the stronger old school numbers I've heard of this sort in recent years, and should be mentioned alongside bands like Sonne Adam or Father Befouled as an example of how to do this all correctly. But ultimately there are some less savory moments where I felt I was nodding off, and the vocals don't really peak my interest outside of their grisly, broad authenticity for the genre. Still, with the wave of atmospheric retro death metal considering to gain in popularity, the timing could not be more perfect for such a debut effort, and Serpent Ascending are likely to thrill the newcomers to the niche, or provide manny (un)happy returns for the veterans who seek sincerity amidst the grinding miasma.
[7,5 out of 10]

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HARD CITY
Review by Lazdi

Η death metal μουσική αναμφίβολα είναι άρρηκτα συνδεδεμένη με την Σκανδιναβική κουλτούρα και ατμόσφαιρα που αποπνέουν οι χώρες του Βορά. Εκεί , στην παγωμένη χώρα της Φιλανδίας, στη χώρα των χιλιάδων λιμνών, με τα υπέροχα και αμέτρητα δάση ζει και συνθέτει ο κατεξοχήν μπασίστας Jarno Nurmi
Οι SERPENT ASCENDING είναι το δικό του παιδί, το δικό του πρίσμα μέσα από το οποίο βλέπει τη μουσική και επιλέγει εκείνος το πως θα πρέπει να ακούγετε η Death Metal μουσική του σήμερα και γιατί όχι και του αύριο. Ο τύπος αυτός έχει αφιερώσει πραγματικά τη ζωή του στη μουσική, έχει θυσιαστεί στο βωμό της και περιμένει υπομονετικά να κερδίσει τη σωτηρία της ψυχής του μέσα από την συνθετική του έκφραση. Με μια διαδρομή σε διάφορες μπάντες όπως Night must fall και Slugathor αλλά και παράλληλη συμμετοχή του σε Nowen και Desecresy έχει κάνει τα πάντα. Κιθάρα , μπάσο , φωνητικά. Στους SERPENT ASCENDING τα κάνει όλα , είναι στη κυριολεξία ο άνθρωπος ορχήστρα που σαν ένας μοναχικός καβαλάρης επιδίδεται σε μια άνευ όρων σατανιστικής λατρείας μέσα από τις 9 συνθέσεις του.
Και αν και δεν συμφωνώ με την θρησκευτική λατρεία να γίνετε τρόπος έκφρασης μέσα από τη μουσική, αν και με βρίσκει αντίθετο η κάθετη ενασχόληση της μουσικής με τα θρησκευτικά πιστεύω του κάθε καλλιτέχνη, εντούτοις οφείλω να ομολογήσω ότι ο Nurmi με εξέπληξε με το μουσικό του κέλευσμα. Μιλώ βέβαια για μουσικό κέλευσμα γιατί στιχουργικά δεν πρόκειται να ενδώσω σε καμία θρησκευτική λατρεία από  οποιαδήποτε πλευρά και αν αυτή προέρχεται. Αλλά ο καθένας θεωρώ έχει το δικαίωμα της προσωπικής του έκφρασης μέσα από την τέχνη, και η τέχνη έχει πολλές μορφές και σε καμία περίπτωση δεν είναι δυνατόν να περιορίζετε η έκφραση του οποιουδήποτε ανθρώπου...
Αυτά όσον αφορά το στιχουργικό μέρος και τις αντιρρήσεις που ενδεχομένως πολλοί έχουν -και σίγουρα σε αυτούς ανήκω και εγώ- για την λατρευτική ακολουθία κάποιων σχημάτων στη μουσική ιδιαιτερότητα του καθενός. Από 'κει και μετά , για να ασχοληθούμε και λίγο με το θέμα μας που είναι η μουσική, το άλμπουμ αυτό φέρνει μέσα όλα εκείνα που θα έπρεπε κάθε Death - black metal άλμπουμ να φέρει. Riff βαριά , γεμάτα από ένα αόρατο τρόμο να σου προκαλούν δέος και φόβο με μια κατανυκτική περιρρέουσα ατμόσφαιρα, groov-άτο μπάσο, φωνητικά βγαλμένα μέσα από τα πιο σκοτεινά μονοπάτια της ψυχικής απόγνωσης, με σίγουρη την καθαρά Underground τοποθέτηση τους μέσα σε έναν κόσμο που προσπαθεί να μας πείσει ότι το Death Metal μπορεί να λάμπει κάτω από φανταχτερές ενορχηστρώσεις και αμέτρητες τεχνικές καταβολές. Το THE ENIGMA UNSETTLED έρχεται για να στοιχειώσει της νύχτες μας, για να μας γεμίσει αμέτρητους εφιάλτες. Το doom κάνει την εμφάνιση του μέσα από τα κομμάτια των SERPENT ASCENDING με μια αίσθηση και ανάμεικτη τοποθέτηση επιρροών από Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath και Candlemass.
Το μόνο αρνητικό στοιχείο που μπόρεσα να βρω είναι ότι ο ήχος στο σύνολο του δεν ακούγετε σωστά , αφού τα ντραμς είναι πολύ πίσω, σε ένα βάθος που δεν τους αξίζει , με τις συνθέσεις να υπολείπονται σε όγκο. Αν και τα φωνητικά είναι αρκετά μπροστά από κάθε τι άλλο με αποτέλεσμα , αυτή η καθαρά Underground φωνή του Nurmi να γεμίζει με ένα σφίξιμο τη καρδιά μας και να δημιουργεί αναμφίβολα τεράστια συναισθήματα φόβου και τρόμου, εντούτοις οι συνθέσεις ακούγονται λίγο ξερές , ρηχές θα έλεγα , και χωρίς όγκο.
Ακόμα και αν δεν είσαι οπαδός φανατικός του Death Metal , όπως ούτε εγώ είμαι , ακόμα και τότε το THE ENIGMA UNSETTLED μπορεί και να σε μαγέψει. Πάντως εμένα που δεν είμαι και κανένας φανατικός ακόλουθος αυτού του μουσικού ιδιώματος κατάφερε να το κάνει. Ίσως και εσύ να μη ξεφύγεις από την μοναδικότητα του αρκεί να του δώσεις την ευκαιρία που του αξίζει...
[8 out of 10]

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HEAVY SOUND
Review by Aymerik

Tout droit venu de Finlande, SERPENT ASCENDING dévoile son premier album, The Enigma Unsettled, un condensé de Death Metal à la sauce Old-School. Pour les connaisseurs, c’est Jarno NURMI (DESECRASY, ex-NIGHT MUST FALL) qui se cache derrière ce doux patronyme et le gaillard assume tous les rôles au sein de cette entité. Inutile de chercher la subtilité, ici il n’en est pas question, non c’est la douceur d’un DISMEMBER, d’un GRAVE ou d’UNLEASHED qu’il faut avoir à l’esprit avec une voix gutturale plus proche d’un CANNIBAL CORPSE en version cradingue. Musicalement, la recette est donc simple, des riffs de Death Metal classiques mais efficaces, enlevés à l’image d’un "Saturnal" ou plus mid tempo et écrasants comme ce "The Human Ladders" particulièrement jouissif. Le tout est régulièrement relevé de mélodie possédée, les noms de DEAD CONGREGATION ou même d’EVIL INCARNATE pourront alors frôler votre esprit, conquis par ce qui est proposé en l’espace de 33 minutes. Certains pourront voir la durée de l’album comme un défaut mais tout y est dit dans ce laps de temps, inutile de laisser trainer votre agonie plus longtemps car les riffs rampants de "The Mournful Pilgrimage" décomposé en 2 parties auront tôt fait de vous assouvir. Non, le défaut de cet album est incontestablement la production, certes, c’est Old-School et ça ne se veut pas propre et clinique mais sur ce The Enigma Unsettled, la batterie résonne comme un pet de nonne et pas plus, dommage lorsque derrière vous avez des riffs assassins comme deuxième lame, l’appréhension de cet album nécessite donc une attention toute particulière, pas le genre d’album à écouter en lisant Voici qui révèle tout un tas de choses sur les candidats de Secret Story aussi passionnant que l’université du PS, les coucheries en plus (ndlr. quoique je me suis laissé entendre dire que…) En clair, amateurs de Death Metal Old-School bien cradingue, dégageant une ambiance nauséabonde mais pas uniquement, voilà un premier album qui devrait vite vous faire adopter ce one-man band, qui espérons le, ne sera pas un one-album band.
[7,5 out of 10]

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NECROWEB MAGAZIN
Review by Blizzard

Fein! Mit Serpent Ascending speit uns Jarno Nurmi aus dem finnischen Untergrund ein hässliches Stück Todesblei aus, welches doch irgendwie kultbehaftet scheint und an jene Tage erinnert, in denen diverse Waldschrate noch hinter dem Ofen saßen und sich an ihren Bartstoppeln kratzten.
Der Opener "The Mournful Pilgrimage - Part 1" erklingt erst einmal recht melodiös, die wahre Fratze soll sich dann erst ab der folgenden Vertonung offenbaren.
Ganz in der Tradition alter Götter wie Disgrace, Abhorrence oder Toxaemia böllert es hier nämlich die nächste halbe Stunde und Freunden genannter Bands sei "The Enigma Unsettled" schon jetzt ans Herz gelegt. Gut, die Produktion ist etwas lasch und hätte durchaus druckvoller umgesetzt werden können. Ebenso sollten beim nächsten Mal ruhig noch ein paar Scheite mehr in das okkulte Gewitter geworfen werden. Diese Umstände machen das Album aber deshalb noch lange nicht zu einem sogenannten Standardwerk.
Das teils morbide, schleppende Klanggut wird von einer schön räudigen Artikulierung begleitet und melodische Gitarrenspiele steuern mitunter melancholische Momente bei.
Und wenngleich das Album in seiner Beschaffenheit mit Sicherheit gewollt primitiv geworden und vielleicht nicht für jedermann wirklich zeitgemäß erscheint, so macht dieses Teil trotzdem (oder vielleicht auch gerade deshalb?) enorm Laune.
"The Enigma Unsettled" verkörpert Death Metal so, wie er einst klang (und leider im Laufe der Zeit zudem verloren ging) - leicht dreckig, primitiv und mit der daraus resultierenden Untergrund-Attitüde.
Für Freunde glattpolierter Spielereien dürfte diese Angelegenheit somit also weniger interessant sein, wer aber mal die Anfänge der damals (für mich) großartigen finnischen Death Metal Szene schnuppern will, der darf keinesfalls zögern. Sollte der hier eingeschlagene Weg in Zukunft beibehalten werden, so gilt es, dieses hoffnungsvolle Projekt unbedingt im Auge zu behalten.
[7 out of 10]

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ROCK OVERDOSE
Review by Vivi Jd

Σήμερα ταξιδεύουμε μέχρι την κρύα Φιλανδία και το Ελσίνκι για να συναντήσουμε εκεί τους Serpent Ascending, το project του Jarno Nurmi, μπασίστα και τραγουδιστή των Slugathor, Desecresy, Nerlich, Night Must Fall, και Nowen. Το άλμπουμ αυτό περιέχει και παλαιότερες ηχογραφήσεις από το 2009 αλλά και νέες συν ένα καινούριο κομμάτι. Στο σύνολο τα κομμάτια είναι εννιά και περιλαμβάνονται σε ένα πολυτελές CD το οποίο συνοδεύεται από ένα 20σέλιδο βιβλιαράκι το οποίο περιλαμβάνει και όλους τους στίχους.
Old school Death Metal θα ακούσετε με έντονα κιθαριστικά riffs, ιλιγγιώδη μπάσο grooves, έντονες εκρήξεις ταχύτητας και ξαφνική επιβράδυνση. Αυτό που τραβάει τη προσοχή είναι οι όμορφες αρμονίες που προσδίδουν και αρκετή ατμόσφαιρα σε όλα τα κομμάτια. Κατά τα άλλα είναι ακόμη ένα death metal άλμπουμ μέσα στα τόσα που φτάνουν στα χέρια μας καθημερινώς. Άξιο αναφοράς είναι το κομμάτι με τίτλο “World Of Flesh On Bone” που διαφέρει των υπολοίπων γιατί διαθέτει μια πιο groove και φρέσκια μουσική επένδυση. Δε θα έλεγα ότι συνθετικά δε σου τραβάει τη προσοχή ίσα ίσα που έχει έξυπνες ιδέες αλλά μέσα στα τόσα που ακούω καθημερινά δεν είναι αυτό το κάτι που θα κάνει τη διαφορά. Το μόνο σίγουρο είναι ότι είναι μια αξιόλογη προσπάθεια από κάποιον που ξέρει να χειρίζεται καλά το εν λόγω είδος και έχει αποτυπώσει το Old school Death Metal να ακούγεται φρέσκο και να αντιπροσωπεύει επάξια τις μουσικές του σήμερα. Τα κομμάτια κυμαίνονται όλα γύρω στα τέσσερα λεπτά διάρκεια χωρίς να είναι τραβηγμένα από τα μαλλιά έχοντας ανούσιο περιεχόμενο.
Όλο το άλμπουμ είναι μια κατάθεση ψυχής, παραλήρημα θα το έλεγα του Jarno στο πως αντιλαμβάνεται ο ίδιος το Φιλανδικό Death Metal και αν κρίνω από αυτό? Ναι είναι πιο ευκολοάκουστο και προσιτό και για κάποιους μη οπαδούς. Οι οπαδοί του είδους ρίχτε μια ματιά. Δεν έχετε να χάσετε κάτι.

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HEAVY WORLDS
Review by Michele Alluigi

Dalla scandinavia freddi come il ghiaccio d'inverno arrivano i Serpent Ascending. One man band del finlandese Jarno Nurmi, già attivo anche nei Desecrecy e nei Nowen. Ottima ed interessante la loro proposta di death doom metal di questo “Enigma Unsettled. Il sound segue le tipiche influenze del genere, come Pentagram e Black Sabbath spizzicando anche da Possessed e Venom per quanto riguarda la matrice più estrema, riprendendo la vecchia scuola death metal. A livello di produzione la qualità dei suoni non è propriamente cristallina ma si sa per un genere così i suoni devono trasudare fango e marciume; il growling ricorda molto per certi aspetti i Cannibal Corpse ( George Fisher) anche se prevale l'influenza degli Obituary a parer mio. Indubbiamente questo è un genere talmente underground che o lo si ama o lo si odia, personalmente sono per la prima opzione e consiglio questo album a chi come me ama l'extreme metal. Unica pecca negativa infatti può risultare la monotonia per un ascoltatore non cultore del genere.
Tracce che secondo il sottoscritto rendono in pieno il talento di questo musicista sono senz'altro “The Enwinement” e “Saturnal” anche se la mia preferita dell'album è senza dubbio l'omonima “ Serpent Ascendig”, dove il tempo si fa più veloce e la dinamica più grintosa.
Chissà se potremmo vedere Mr Nurmi dal vivo, in fondo per un musicista così trovare dei session man per i live Show è un attimo.

[7,5 out of 10]

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BRUTAL CRUSH
Review by Roberto Buccolini

Dalla sempre feconda scena finlandese ci arriva la release dei Serpent Ascending, band capitanata dal buon Jarno Nurmi, un nome non nuovo ai più attenti osservatori dell’underground. La proposta è inequivocabilmente un puro e semplice death metal. Direi che il buon Jarno ha attinto a piene mani dai vecchi portabandiera della scena scandinava (Grave su tutti) che non si allinearono più di tanto al diktat allora imposto dagli Entombed e da Stoccolma in generale, gruppi che optarono per una rielaborazione dello stile della prima Tampa Bay (Death, Necrophagia, Massacre e Autopsy vi dicono niente?) allineandolo alle sonorità crushin’ tipiche della scena “vichinga”. Diciamolo chiaro, di originale qui non c’è niente, ma devo ammettere che per un vecchio (e sottolineo vecchio) death metaller che questo genere l’ha visto nascere e crescere, l’ascolto di quanto proposto non mi ha dato quella sensazione di stantìo e di scontatezza che ho provato con altre produzioni death di recente fattura. Come livello qualitativo li metterei a paragone con gente del calibro di Grave, Cancer e Unleashed, dunque non certo i dominatori del movimenti del periodo ma ottimi comprimari. Consiglio l’ascolto ai nostalgici del death “duro e puro” (quello che beninteso deve da puzzà de tomba!), un ascolto che non potrà che risultare godibile (ok, niente lacrimucce ripensando ai primi anni ’90, eh!), ma solo a loro. Perciò, una volta chiarito quanto sopra, spolverate i bigattini dal vostro teschio preferito e godetevi un buon album DEATH METAL senza dovere andare a ripescare i cari vecchi CD di vent’anni fa favoleggiando quanto eravamo bravi noi “vecchiacci” a tirare fuori l’oscurità dagli amplificatori, buon ascolto!

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HATEFUL METAL
Review by Aceust

Serpent Ascending ist das Soloprojekt von Jarno Nurmi der sich dem alten und dreckigen Death Metal verschrieben hat. Einigen ist er von Slugathor oder Night Must Fall her bekannt. The Enigma Unsettled jedenfalls ist das Debütalbum und dieses kommt völlig ohne Firlefanz oder irgendwelche Spielereien aus. Klanglich, spielerisch und strukturell ist das Album absolut oldschool, auf eine authentische Art und Weise ohne künstlich inszenierte Retro-Attitüde. Vermutlich wird dies die Hörer scheiden, weil es für die Einen unglaublich langweilig erscheint wohingegen die anderen die schnoddrigen Riffs und den bewusst dreckigen Klang sowie die geradlinige und direkte Spielweise lieben werden.
Das Tempo ist langsam bis mittelschnell, die Riffs erklingen leicht melodisch und stets drückend sowie düster und der Gesang ist tief, dunkel und kehlig. Das sind gute Zutaten, die von Serpent Ascending auch anständig vermengt und umgesetzt wurden. Allerdings hätte die Klangproduktion mehr aus der Musik herausholen können, es fehlt an Druck und der Gesang ist stellenweise eine Spur zu laut. The Enigma Unsettled ist böser Death Metal in alter Tradition und weiß zu gefallen, auch wenn das gewisse Etwas leider fehlt. Es ist ein atmosphärisch überzeugendes und morbides Album welches sich in erster Linie an Fanatiker des Death Metals richtet.

[6,5 out of 10]

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HARD TIMES
Review by Schreiender Mönch

Freunde der alten Tage des Death Metal, merket auf! Für alle, denen das "neumodische" Material der heutigen Zeit einfach nicht mehr den Spirit aus der guten alten Zeit transportiert, springen nun SERPENT ASCENDING aus dem finnischen Untergrund. Aus dem Hause I, Voidhanger Records wird der frisch gesignete Act mit seinem Erstlingswerk "The Enigma unsettled" kredenzt.
Dass weniger manchmal mehr ist, wissen wir ja nicht erst seit AC/DC und so kann es dann eben auch mal im Death Metal zugehen. Denn genau so zelebrieren die Finnen ihre Platte: dreckig, primitiv und immer mitten auf die Zwölf! Zeigt sich der Opener "The mournful Pilgrimage (Part 1) noch ein wenig melodiös verschmust, so werden im Verlauf der Platte doch noch ordentlich die Krallen ausgepackt. Die Platte nimmt Fahrt auf und zeigt sich in allen Facetten von Geballer bis hin zu episch schleppenden Nummern, wie "The Entwinement".
Ein Schwachpunkt des Albums dürfte dann allerdings die doch etwas dünn geratene Produktion sein. Natürlich liebt man im Underground den rumpeligen Schmalspursound, aber warum sollte man sich die Mühe machen, ein gutes Album zu konzipieren, um es dann mit schlechter Soundkulisse auf die Menschheit loszulassen? Hätte man hier ein wenig mehr Wucht und Schmackes hineingelegt, "The Enigma unsettled" käme um einiges attraktiver daher.
Doch was noch nicht ist, das kann noch werden und SERPENT ASCENDING stehen mit dem frischen Deal und der ersten Platte ja noch am Anfang ihres Schaffens. So wird man von ihnen wohl noch hören und das darf sich dann auch gerne um einiges fetter anhören.
Anspieltips: The Entwinement, World of Flesh and Bone
[7 out of 10]

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STEREO INVADERS
Review by Thiess

Primo album per la one man band Serpent Ascending, il cui mastermind Jarno Nurmi è solo protagonista e le cui passioni sono il Death Metal Old School, di quello corrosivo e che rammenta i maestri Autopsy. Citazione semplice, ma che vi aiuta e rendere l’idea di ciò a cui chevi troverete di fronte. Lenti alcuni approcci, cadenze che rammentano la scuola Doom e che in tal direzione ci fanno fare un tutto nel passato e a quelle atmosfere tipiche degli anni Ottanta. Crediamo manchi qualche musicista di ruolo, soprattutto per quanto riguarda la batteria e la chitarra, le cui pecche sono date dalla linearità delle loro interpretazioni. Nulla di nuovo all’orizzonte, anche se non possiamo che essere incuriositi da questo sapore vintage del genere della morte. Album che non deluderà lo zoccolo duro del filone, e chi vuole andare sempre alla ricerca di realtà estreme e capaci di emozionare con brani violenti ma atmosferici. In effetti l’ambientazione è alquanto avvolgente, e tutt’altro che scontata nel suo lento crescendo e virulenza attitudinale. Vedremo se le cose evolveranno, auspicandoci una crescita ulteriore e necessaria se si vuol alzare il capo nel panorama.
[7 out of 10]

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NIGHTSHADE
Review by Otti

Schwer muss es sein, rotzig muss es sein, böse muss es klingen... Das ist für Death Metal-Puristen sicher eine prima Basis, um sich an ihrer bevorzugten Mucke zu erfreuen. Und für genau solche Leute gibt es Bands wie Serpent Ascending aus Helsinki. Die Finnen debütieren derzeit mit ihrem ersten Album The Enigma Unsettled beim Label I, Voidhanger Records und sind irgendwie auch in meinen Rezensions-Stapel geraten.
Okkult und satanistisch geben sich die Nordmänner dabei, ganz dem (alten) Genre-Klischee entsprechend. Ist ja auch in Ordnung, jedem das Seine. Mich interessiert gerade eher die Musik, und die ist alles in allem ganz ordentlich. Die Produktion klingt zwar etwas schwachbrüstig (was mancher aber als "True" ansehen mag), die Songs an sich sind aber schon abwechslungsreich und doch im Kern auf einem Stil gehalten. Dabei überzeugt mich nun nicht jeder Track gleichermaßen... Während zum Beispiel der zweite Teil von The Mournful Pilgrimage eher fad und einschläfernd wirkt, ist Endless Initiations ein schönes, kraftvolles Metal-Brett, wie ich es liebe, und so kontrovers verhält es sich mit verschiedenen Teilen des Albums.
Serpent Ascending sind nun keine Kandidaten für den nächsten großen Wurf und werden wahrscheinlich über den Status eines Geheimtipps nie hinaus kommen. In bestimmten Todesmetallerkreisen jedoch werden die Finnen garantiert den einen oder anderen Jünger ergattern können, der dann auch mit Freuden The Enigma Unsettled aus seinen Boxen rattern lässt.

 

      

SERPENT ASCENDING : INTERVIEWS




DAMNED BY LIGHT
Interview by M
(Link to Damned By Light)

First things first; could you briefly sum up the essence and concept of Serpent Ascending to our readers? Are there some bands you could rightfully compare SA with, in one way or the other?
The essence of Serpent Ascending is of the self-evolving left hand path and its philosophy and energy in audial and lyrical form. It is darkness with the light of the Self as a luciferian concept. Musically Serpent Ascending is a combination of the old ways of finnish death metal and black metal with quite a lot of melodies.
It is too hard to go and compare my works with any other bands so I will leave that to others.

The name "Serpent Ascending" could be explained as either Lucifer, wisdom, or sin (the nature/animal in man) taking the highest throne and glory... but how do you explain the name yourself - if there even is a way to thoroughly explain it?
The name can be interpreted in various ways. I see it as the fiery kundalini serpent that is definitely linked to satanism and tantric left hand path. It rises from the mud and dirt of life but blooms as the thousand petaled lotus. Of course these mud and dirt only seem like they were lower and less pure than what is ”above” while actually they already are one with the highest. Serpent is the symbol of Lucifer, our lightbringer, initiator and liberator once fallen, i.e. born into our flesh, giving us the divine intellect and promethean fire.

What were the events that led to the birth of Serpent Ascending, and to you keeping it as your solo-project? Were you afraid that other individuals might damage your vision of the music, or was it otherwise something you found you need to do, create and survive through on your own?
I had a long and silent uncreative phase after I left one of my previous bands Nerlich in 2005. It took three years before I found my creativity again because I had tried to force myself into creating certain kind of music that wasn't my music after all. As other personal processes culminated in 2008 I found the spirituality that I had searched for and felt liberated in many ways. That also helped me to start the creative process again and Serpent Ascending was born.
The only reason to begin Serpent Ascending as a solo project was to let it grow and evolve on it's own without unintended problems between members having their own ambitions that could've been wrong for Serpent Ascending. I didn't want to compromise with the vision and I didn't know anyone who could have shared the vision with me. Now things have evolved in a way that allows the band to become a unit of more than one person.

SA is a clearly satanic and occult band. How did you choose death metal as your medium, instead of the more usual or traditional choice of black metal?
I didn't really choose death metal but just wrote the songs and that's what they turned out to be. There might be more black metal vibes on the future releases though in my opinion Serpent Ascending has already been quite close to black metal and it's not really a big step to move towards that direction. The line between death metal and black metal is quite thin when it comes to bands like Serpent Ascending and I just have to create the music that naturally comes out of me. The categorization is the least important factor after all and I wouldn't really care if the next album was something totally different from what I've done this far, though it's quite unlikely.

Regarding the lyrical side, I wrote the following in my review of your "The Enigma Unsettled"-compilation: "The lyrics deal with becoming one with Satan through his trials and finding ways to channel his power, seeing beyond the material world into a spiritual one, and finding one's own will through self-exploration and devotion - growth and transformation." If I've made any mistakes here that need correcting or you'd like to add someting, then please do.
Your depiction is good and I don't see much to correct, although I don't think ”material” and ”spiritual” world could be separated from each other after all. That which is spiritual has only taken a dense form in the world we're living in, which means that this is how we experience the spiritual realms at the moment.

What originally lured you into the world of occultism and satanism? Dissatisfaction with the material realms, or perhaps hatred towards Finland's religious atmospheres? It's far from the easiest way of living through your days, so there must be something there that truly lures you.
I've always had the interest but it took a long time to really find my way to actualize it. I feel it's a deeper craving that's been inside all the time. Dissatisfaction usually is a good tool to drive man to try and find something more or better. But mostly I think that too strong separation between what we should do and what we really are doing in our lives is the real cause of dissatisfaction, not how other people affect us or spend their lives. That's quite inessential after all.

One could also ask what got you to craft your personal struggles, views and findings into a musical form - or in other words, what does the music (in your opinion) contribute to the lyrical themes? How does the instrumental song on "The Mournful Pilgrimage" fit into this equation, what is its meaning and purpose?
Actually the instrumental song had lyrics and you can still hear parts of them whispered in the background. The instrumental version is more effective and the growls that were recorded somehow disrupted the feeling of the song. The vocals sounded quite tormented in a good way but they just didn't fit in.
In general the music gives the overall feeling to the songs. It's nothing less than flowing energy while lyrics are the crystallization of the idea the song is trying to reach and express. They're both equally important.

Do you need to hold yourself back when writing the lyrics? I've noticed they're very personal, and one would think there are some things you don't want to (or are unneeded or too distracting to) reveal to your listeners.
Actually the lyrics that I originally wrote for the instrumental track were so personal in too problematic way that I had to remove most of the vocals that were already recorded and leave only some of the whispers.
Usually I never think if I should write something or not. In the future I might go into more personal and emotional way of expression. I don't think that the lyrics I wrote for the earlier releases were so personal after all, even though the lyrics were all about my personal processes. Anyway the earlier lyrics have yet been quite idealistic and I feel there is a need to do something more personal in a way that still reflects the Idea and the Spirit.

Since SA is a vessel and creation for personal use and "gain" (I would assume), what initially got you to release your works in public? Are you hoping your listeners might find something in the lyrics they could use in their lives, or just to give them a dose of quality death metal, or..?
Both really. I wish to create some quality music while still keeping things profound. I don't know if I have gained anything but the challences that come when you make such vows and promises that are included in the songs. Every word ever said already have the potentiality of a spell and every vow and promise that is written in the form of lyrics will summon the powers they're related to, and well... at times I might have promised too much. After all the only gain is to go through the experience and see what's beyond. I don't know if most of the listeners have found anything important in the lyrics but those few who have already make the public work worth all the efforts.

Regarding the above, is there a specific reason to you using your birth name with Serpent Ascending instead of choosing an alias?
I didn't really think about it when I started. I wouldn't say my birth name is any more real or unreal than any other name I could have used though. Some people want to distance art from their personality by being anonymous or using other names. It's ok but wasn't their personality already there when they channelled the art? If we didn't need personalities we wouldn't have ones and if art can somehow be tainted by the personality it is nothing important at all. And by art I mean the expression of that which is holy and can never be tainted or desecrated, however personal it's outward form might seem. It's our personality through which we channel the art and everything.

I mentioned self-exploration, growth, devotion and transformation above. Do you practice rituals, or do you moreso focus on studying occult writings? Are there some writers or other experiences that you could point as critically important to your spiritual growth?
Self-exploration and growth do not require rituals but they can help centering the mind to certain energy and let it flow through your being. I do not practise rituals on a regular basis. Lately I haven't studied that much occult writings as I have done in the past and will probably do in the future. I've wanted to center my self into what I already have within, letting not too many outer impulses have their effects on it. Of course it's impossible to close everything out of yourself but in some phases of life it's crucial to minimize the effects of outer authorities.
Many writers have been important to me during the years but the most important one is definitely Johannes Nefastos whose writings have given me a lot of new perspective. Many original religious texts and their archetypal symbolism have also influenced me a lot.

How are your songs traditionally born; do the lyrics come first and the musical theme around it?
Usually music comes first and sets the wordless energy of the song. Words try to reach the energy and idea in their own way and as a process it seems more difficult.

As your music focuses on dark and occult themes, how do you create the suitable songs for them? Are the songs more about the atmospheres than their "punch," or what kind of emphases do you usually employ?
I don't think about the process much. It just happens but I do have a certain urge to create songs that are diverse yet not too complicated. After the basis of a song is ready I know what kind of atmospheres are necessary but that's intuition and feeling more than reasoning.

You've released two demos, named Serpent Ascending & The Mournful Pilgrimage, which were later bundled together under the name "The Enigma Unsettled" through the label "I, Voidhanger." Yet, these releases are separate ones with different themes. Would you like to share us something about the demos' themes?
I don't have any certain interpretations on the themes. My interpretations change from time to time and grow. I don't want to spoil too much but at the moment I would say that ”The Mournful Pilgrimage” is about the tragic and sorrowful pilgrimage that we have to make at some points, or one could also say that it's the life as a whole already. Two parts of the title track conceal the ideas within that are presented in the songs between those two songs.
Serpent Ascending's theme is also what the title suggests: the ecstatic ascension of the spirit and different things to be faced during that process. Some qabalistic themes were used on the demo that is actually only a first part of a bigger project that still misses 6 or 7 songs. I don't know if I ever get a chance to finish the project. Hopefully I will.

As mentioned, the new compilation is titled "The Enigma Unsettled." What does the name stand for, or what's the referred enigma in question?
It's the whole existence that is the enigma. The lyrics of the title track are also preferring to this. Everywhere there's a paradox that is so great and mysterious that you can only adore it - and hate it at the same time.

The first striking feature of "The Enigma Unsettled" compilation-CD is of course the amazing artwork. How did you find and choose the visual artist Wiley Trieff? What kind of pointers did you give to him for creating the artwork, and did he have the music to draw influences from? Have you planned whether or not you'll have the same man working on the next album's graphics as well?
His artwork was suggested to me by Luciano of I, Voidhanger records. Wiley Trieff made the artwork on his own and we didn't affect each other. The music and the artwork fit together perfectly so I didn't have to consider it too long when I saw the paintings. I believe the right things happen without forcing them or trying to control things too much.
I think Wiley Trieff is somewhat willing to make artwork for the next Serpent Ascending release and I have nothing against that.

How did you find the label "I, Voidhanger"? Will you be working with them in the future as well?
I didn't find the label. I was waiting for labels to find Serpent Ascending and Luciano of I, Voidhanger records contacted me in early 2011. He had listened to the Mournful Pilgrimage demo that was uploaded on Serpent Ascending myspace site and offered me a recording deal. I, Voidhanger will release the next Serpent Ascending album too.

How has the compilation been received this far? Have you noticed if people have gotten familiar with the lyrical side as well as noting the compilations three-part build? Death Metal is easily regarded as low-brow pummeling, so one could expect these things remain unseen fairly often.
Some reviews have been very good, some very bad and others somewhere in between. Unfortunately too many reviewers have thought the compilation was a full-length debut album and have wondered about it's production. I don't know if they read anything about the album and just downloaded it. Feedback from the listeners has been good but I think the lyrical side is easily overlooked. Some people think it's just ”evil occult old-school worship” and that's far from the essence of Serpent Ascending. Death metal is often very stupid lyrically so it's not really a surprise that most people are not interested in the lyrics.

Serpent Ascending is otherwise a one-man band, but you've used a session drummer. Was it difficult to let someone else deliver your vision of the very personal album, or did you let him do what he saw was best?
I had already done demo versions of the songs with drums so there wasn't that much freedom. But I do trust those whom I work with and have no need to restrict their creativity. When intention and the beginning of the process are right there's not much need to control everything. You just know that things are going well.

 As a follow-up question: have you ever thought about performing live with Serpent Ascending?
 
I have and if it depends on me Serpent Ascending will play live after the next album is released.

You played in both Nerlich and Slugathor before their demise, and now you're in Desecresy. What is it about oldschool death metal that appeals to you, year after year? Are you in any other bands that are currently active?
I don't know really. I started playing death metal with Nerlich and it seems that since those days (oldschool) Death metal has remained as my primary channel of creativity. Death metal is a powerful and striking way of expression and I think it is the power and the images and ideas of death that made it very influential earlier in my life. During the last years those ideals have grown deeper and I need to make philosophically deeper songs about death and dying not as physical events but as a subtle transformation.
I also play in a thrash metal band called Nowen which is not that serious on an idealistic level but more like having good time with friends. Desecresy is closer to Serpent Ascending in a way and to me it's like these bands were ”twins” or something. Not identical or even sharing completely similar ideals but close to each other in a way that is hard to describe.

Regarding the above, what do you have in store with your different bands, including Serpent Ascending? Anything you'd like to reveal regarding Serpent Ascending's next offering or its themes?
Currently I'm working on the next Serpent Ascending release that is the actual debut album. Some things will be similar to earlier works but there's also new aspects that have not found their expressions before. The album will have a conceptual theme going through the whole record.

Everyone knows how flooded the field of metal (and music in general) is these days. Have you ran into any especially good bands lately that you'd like to mention as worth checking out, either to fans of SA or otherwise?
Lately I haven't listened that much music that could be recommended to people enjoying Serpent Ascending. But to mention a band that I've found interesting lately, I would say that Ysengrin has done some great things with their releases.

This paragraph is for whatever you feel like adding (or advertising).
Nothing else to add, I want to thank you for this interesting interview as well as all the people reading this!

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HIGHWIRE DAZE
Interview by Kenneth Morton

(Link to Highwire Daze)

Serpent Ascending is presented by Jarno Nurmi whose many underground metal credits include membership within Slugathor, Desecresy, Nerlich, and many other supreme entities. Surely a personal work of mystical artistry, The Enigma Unsettled is the debut blackened death masterwork now unleashed through I, Voidhanger Records. In this interview, we discuss with Serpent Ascending’s creator about the origins of the songs, a compelling study of Satanism, future plans with Serpent Ascending and the various other projects, and other topics of interest. Read on for darkened enlightenment…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Serpent Ascending, and how long the band has been together.
My name is J. Nurmi. Excluding the session drummer on the album I am currently the only member of Serpent Ascending. Serpent Ascending was founded in 2008 when I found my creative skills again after a long break that took about 3 years. The name Serpent Ascending already reveals what the project is about: Spiritual ascension of the fiery Serpent that has been known with many names (Satan, Shiva, Lucifer etc.) during the millenia.

Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Serpent Ascending comes from Helsinki, Finland. The scene here is quite large. Many people are into metal music and it's definitely one of the most popular genres in Finland. Active undergound scene with many great bands especially within Black Metal scene. Finnish underground Death Metal is not that popular here but the scene is very much alive. Or dead if you wish.

Is there any story or concept to the CD title The Enigma Unsettled?
Occult themes of the album are always more or less enigmatic and esoteric and simply put that's basically where the album title comes from and it also summarises the upmost feelings that the music contains.
The album doesn't have any single story. It's divided into three parts that are called The Mournful Pilgrimage, Serpent Ascending and The Entwinement and they all have their own concepts that deal with different views on occultism even though there are some themes that are visible through every part of the album. For example the concept of spiritual purification that is death as transformation and change. It's not the physical death but death before actually dying followed by rebirth into more illumined states.
The Mournful Pilgrimage is the journey through the dark aspect of man that is equally important as the light side which usually gets more attention than its darker counterpart. Serpent Ascending is the ecstatic yet sometimes painful awakening of the fiery Serpent that burns away the dirt within our being. The Entwinement literally entwines these two sides together.

Select any two Serpent Ascending songs and what inspired the lyrics?
The title track of the album was inspired by the paradoxical nature of the world we're living in and the quest for the meaning. A journey that drives some men insane yet leads some towards the enlightenment.
"The Entwinement" is a vow to aspire towards the Truth however difficult the Way might turn out to be. It marks the decision to voluntarily go through the forge that changes the whole being of man. It is not primarily a physical change but a spiritual one. In the middle section there's a plea to be entwined into and become one with the greater force and consciousness of the master within us. The ending of the song is something that usually can only be expressed in poetical and mysterious ways. It is the union and oneness of gods that are seen in opposition to each other. There are reasons for the separation but in our earthly life they are extremely difficult to understand.

Who did the fantastic artwork for The Enigma Unsettled and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork is made by an American artist called Wiley Trieff. Personally I didn't have any input on the artwork. It was suggested to me by Luciano of I, Voidhanger records and I thought the pictures suited the music perfectly. Of course there's always some troubles when fittting two art forms together when they're created separately and might have different creative intentions but I think the outcome turned out to be great. I hope the artist himself could also be equally satisfied with the result of this entwinement. His terrific artwork truly deserves attention and I am happy to give my relatively small input on that.

Since you are in at least three other bands, what made you decide to start Serpent Ascending? What do you find within this project that you don’t find in the other bands?
The main reason was the urge to make it in my own way and express things that couldn't have been expressed with other bands because they're main ideals were and are different and are mostly channelled by other people. Currently I am in two other bands, namely Desecresy and Nowen. Both bands are expressing more or less different things from Serpent Ascending and I know we couldn't have found agreement on how to handle these songs that are now released on The Enigma Unsettled. The main difference is that they are not as deeply and consciously based on ideological and spiritual basis. There are some similaritities between Desecresy and Serpent Ascending and from my point of view the bands are like different beams from the same source but must be led separately.

What does the term Satanism mean to you, if anything?
Satanism is based on individuality, i.e. the individualized consciousness as opposed to the oneness. It's not against the oneness although it sometimes might seem to be so. More truthfully we could say that the separation from the oneness is a crucial part of the progressing spirituality and at a certain point the aspirant (an occultist, yogi etc.) must become a Satanist. Actually I think that every individual must become a Satanist at some point to develop the pure vision of the Self and it should happen under spiritual guidance of the inner master. Satanism is definitely NOT about being an egotist which is about confusing the personality and the mind (or the physical body) to be the Self which they are not. That's one of the basic mistakes in hedonistic and atheistic views of Satanism. I see Satan as the ruling principle and archetype of our world, not as an evil deceiver but as the grand challenger who brings us the trial and the triumph when we surpass the tests that come to us only in our present state of separation. There's other sides to him too but not enough space to write.

Since The Enigma Unsettled is basically two earlier albums, how close are you to recording an all new masterwork?
I am working on the next album and have a few songs ready. The album will be the first magnum opus of Serpent Ascending bringing in some new elements while maintaining familiar things that deserve to be preserved. I have a concept slowly crystallizing in my mind and the album will continue with occult concept and the main idea is to go through seven main archetypal manifestations of Satan.

Have you ever performed live as Serpent Ascending or plan to do so in the future?
I have plans to play live with Serpent Ascending in the future but the line-up is not yet completed. Probably after the next album there will be a good chance to play live as the bands musical and idealistic foundation has found its external forms. This far there has been no chances for live activities or members because the band has been "hermetically sealed". Wrong inspiration and disagreements can damage the work during the vulnerable early stages and that's why Serpent Ascending had to be spawned solely by me. 

How did the collaborating with I, Voidhanger Recordings come about?
I had finished working with The Mournful Pilgrimage demo in December 2010 and uploaded it on the myspace site and Luciano from the recording label heard the songs. He then contacted me with a recording deal in mind. It was something that I had expected and hoped to happen and was really happy with Lucianos vision. A strong vision certainly is something that metal scene and music in general need today: A vision filled with enthusiasm that go through all obstacles and builds monuments that last long and are never seen before.

What's up next for Serpent Ascending and your other bands and projects? Any final words of wisdom?
I am currently writing new songs for the album that will be the next step in the ascension of Serpent Ascending. Some of those ideas I already told about earlier in the interview.
With Desecresy we're recording the second album. Actually vocals are the only part that are yet to be recorded. In my opinion the album is a huge step forward and not just musically but lyrically too as these sides are equally important to me.
Nowen also recorded its second album earlier in the autumn 2011 and it will see the light of day during the beginning of the next year. The album contains some great thrash/death metal with a touch of originality.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Looking forward to hearing future compositions from Serpent Ascending.
I wish all the best to you and everyone reading the interview. Thank you very much!

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METALITALIA
Interview by Luca Pessina

In IItalian

In English:

The album seems to revolve around a sort of cosmic concept. Can you please talk about this? How is it tackled in the music? Does it only relate to the lyrics?
The cosmic concept was not really consciously intentional when I was writing the lyrics and music. Naturally the planetary symbolism used in the artwork and the lyrics will create the cosmic feeling and it definitely is a right interpretation among other possible ways to see it. Following that kind of view I could say the music filled with darkness represents the blackness and background on which the lights of the nightly sky may appear. Yet they both are equally important and created by the same genius and intellect that dwells within man and is sometimes referred to as the Luciferian Spirit that is the innermost self that humankind is blessed with.
Simplistically speaking it is also what the song "Saturnal" is about. The spirit of the light-bearer within man found by venturing through the darker aspects that are the heaviest essence of our being symbolized with the planetary sign of Saturn. In Alchemy it is the process of turning lead into gold. Even though these are symbols they're not metaphors to depict merely mundane realities. The lyrics are symbolizing the spiritual and ideal planes which to our eyes are manifested as the physical world.

In ancient Greece, poetry was considered incomplete without accompanying music which united the significance of the words with the significance of certain tones and musical shapes. is there any relevance of this idea today?
In my opinion it really depends on how the words were meant to be. Some poems can be very inspiring and summon a certain state of mind even without music. A classic such as "The Marriage of Heaven & Hell" by William Blake is quite a spectacular example. Of course on “The Enigma Unsettled” lyrics were meant to be accompanied with the music you hear so it's a of different situation. I wouldn't release a poetry book of these lyrics so I think the Greeks were right at least in the case of Serpent Ascending.

I was very surprised by how fluid is the sound of Serpent Ascending, especially because your project is pretty new. How long did it take to complete the songwriting? Who would you say are your main influences to this band?
I began writing the songs in 2008 and that's also when Serpent Ascending was founded. Most of the songs on "The Enigma Unsettled" were completed in the end of 2009 when I started recording the second demo (The Mournful Pilgrimage) which was never released separately. "The Entwinement" was created in a few months during the summer of 2010. It might seem the song writing process was quite long but of course I wasn't working with the material all that time. There were longer breaks when I couldn't even think about the music I was writing.
Some of the main musical influences include Iron Maiden, Morbid Angel, early Sentenced (especially North From Here), Into The Pandemonium by Celtic Frost, Voivod and King Crimson.

Is it hard for you to create new riffs, ideas, songs and a "voice" for yourselves in death metal, since so much of the genre was established before?
Not really but sometimes writing lyrics can get quite hard because the idea is more difficult to get into a verbal form compared to the musical side which usually just comes out and flows into the form. Composing music is like channeling the idea into an audible form and it's quite fluent process while writing lyrics is like pushing yourself towards the idea and getting a good grasp of it.
In my opinion Serpent Ascending is quite original in it's style that does have the "old-school" dimension but does not only stick to that as I'm not trying to follow the old-school movement or imitate the early bands of Finnish death metal. I wish to make subtler music and not just repeat the established content. I also think that the spiritual and occult themes that are close to the world of Serpent Ascending have not yet been seriously explored within metal music.

It is well-known that Finland has a strong metal scene. But your sound is different. Is there a scene in Finland where you would say that Serpent Ascending fits? Are there other bands crafting a sound that's somewhat similar to yours? Are you familiar with bands such as Maveth or Cryptborn?
I'm not that familiar with the bands mentioned. I have only heard a couple of songs by them so I don't know what they really are about. But definitely Serpent Ascending is part of the scene but I might be too blind to place my own creation into a certain part of it. I can not really recall other bands with similar sounds. The sound that was crafted for the first half of the CD might not be the most desired metal sound there is but it was the only possible way to support the atmosphere of the songs. It couldn’t have been done with “good” production. I don’t think there’s other bands that have the same feeling of being on the brink of collapse that is so essential part of the “Mournful Pilgrimage“. Like some reviewers have said it sounds kind of weak, but in my opinion, when treated in the right way weaknesses always turn into strengths during the process. Metal scene is mostly concentrated on the brute force that is not so important to Serpent Ascending even though there are some elements of it on the album.

Talking about the history of Finnish metal. I wanted to know your opinion on the subject. Why is it so famous? Why is there such a perception that Finland is this huge metal country? Which bands do you consider the most important in the development of your scene? For instance, I think both Demigod and Demilich release mind-blowing stuff but they didn't really get the hype they deserved...
I believe the old Finnish bands managed to tap into a certain vein that not too many bands had found before. It was darker than the Swedish or American equivalents but it never got so big. I think it might have been even too dark and saturnine for bigger audiences. I don’t know if the bands even managed to handle the forces by themselves, as so many bands quit or sank into oblivion after just a couple of releases. If there's something I wish to do as part of the Finnish death metal scene, it is to dig into that same source that gave birth to so many good records and take the thing even further.
Speaking of important albums and bands the ones you already mentioned are the ones that I look up to. I'd also like to add my personal favourite “North From Here” by Sentenced that I already mentioned earlier because it is the album that in death metal scene has given me the most, musically.

To many, death metal must remain underground and "elite": what are your thoughts on this attitude?
I do understand why some people consider underground bands better than the mainstream ones. There's still ambition which easily gets lost if bands are not careful with the quality of their creations when gaining more attention. Otherwise I'm not really interested in elitism within metal scene. Being an elitist usually means that a person is pushing someone else down to gain some height to oneself. That kind of intentions are destined to fail.

Does being fully metal conflict with having a career, family or non-metal friends? How do you all balance being in an occult death metal band with the needs of normal life?
There is no conflict between different sides of life. They're all part of the bigger picture and purpose. Creating art is always occult in a way, because it can not be done without processing those hidden things and subtle matters within oneself. And being a part of such work will slowly turn your whole life into an occult process. You can't just write about it without being changed.

So the band has been around for about four years, give or take, looking forward, what is it that you hope to accomplish with the band? Has your idea of the band changed at all?
The main idea is still the same and it has only gotten more crystallized during the process. The idea stays the same but it manifests in slightly different ways every time a new release is being created. What I wish to give to those people listening to the music is mostly the feeling of strength and even mystery that might sound funny but it really is something that people need these days. I wish to make it in a way that the listeners don’t necessarily have to understand the lyrical content to get inside the energy that is flowing. Those are the things I wish to accomplish in the outward and broader sense. The first demo captured the right drift partly, and I only have sympathetic feelings towards it but it was “The Mournful Pilgrimage” and “The Entwinement” that truly started working in the right way.

Do you have any plans of playing live or to record with a full lineup?
If everything goes as planned there will be a full line-up and the right time for the live appearances comes probably after the next album is released. The main reason why I began working alone was that I knew there was no time to start up a new band with full line-up at the moment when Serpent Ascending was founded. I was not interested to begin the rehearsal process that would have taken months as I was already rehearsing with other bands as well. I also thought that I must get the foundation and the core of songs ready before I should ask anyone else to join.

When can we expect a new album? Are you actually working on any new material? Does it sound any differently from what you've done on "The Enigma Unsettled"?
I am working on new material and already have a few songs getting completed and the concept is mostly ready, but I won't go into details yet. Probably the album will be recorded early next year. I don’t know yet what the album will sound like but it will continue the path that has begun and hopefully raise it to the next level.

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ARISTOCRAZIA
Interview by Mourning

In Italian

In English:

Welcome to Aristocrazia Webzine, how it feels to have placed the main beam of a seriously and musically important ideological temple with Serpent Ascending?
I am grateful because for the first time I have a feeling that I truly have the freedom and ability to give musical expression to things that I hold in high position in my life. With the release of "The Enigma Unsettled" the first scene in the life of Serpent Ascending is accomplished and things are ready to go forward.

What has changed from the first contact we have had two years ago, when I asked you to review the demo? And how did this project born? You have played and play again in many bands (Slugathor, Nowen, Desecresy, Nerlich), from what is sprung the desire of a "solo" dimension?
Many things have changed within Serpent Ascending and I see it really is rising higher, ascending as it is supposed to be. Things are moving fast these days and I hope I manage to keep up with the speed of the progression. The need for a "solo project" arose when I was at the situation when I really felt that I must express my personal views through this art form. Even though I have played with many bands during the years there was never a situation where I had the possibility to really express myself. Actually I hadn't even fully acknowledged it before 2008. During the year my ideological and spiritual views were going through some major changes. This kind of expression couldn't have been possible with any other band because it would have been against the spirit and idea of those groups. All bands have their own Spirit and Idea that should be followed. That's the main reason why a solo project had to be spawned.

In the various formations in which he plays or has played, Jarno Nurmi reinvented from time to time its role as a musician? You have played the guitar in Nerlich, the bass in Nowen and you sang in Desecresy, while in Serpent Ascending do it all yourself. You are at ease whatever the position to be filled? Have you taken advantage from this versatility when you have set up your own solo-project?
Varying between bass and guitar isn't really difficult to do if you understand the basic differences between the instruments and what they are supposed to do. But I wouldn't call myself a multi-instrumentalist as I can not handle the drums. At least not yet. The only advantage is that I've been able to do most of the things by myself. Vocals were something new to me and I really wanted to explore that area and will explore more in the future. That is the most interesting "instrument" at the moment because it is more uncertain then the others. You can go and pick up a guitar and just start to play but you can't do the same thing with vocals. It's always different and every time you'll hear if things have developed or regressed.

I said it two years ago and I confirm it now, having had the opportunity to write also about "Enigma Unsettled": the mind of someone who lives and plays music in a certain way, putting in their own personality and research that is not limited to the usual "vulgar" and not credible styles of Satanism full of "Hail Satan" and "Kill The Christian" (great song of Deicide among other things), can project into the notes the path that is taking, the direction is now more clear and ritualistically evocative, what do you want convey to your listeners?
The ideal that I wish to convey through my lyrics is the more intelligent and maybe higher form of Satanism. The death worship is still there but it doesn't mean that as a Satanist I should support the annihilation and destruction of everything around me or spread hate everywhere I go to. After all, this so called annihilation will not come by destroying everything but only through ascending spiritual progression that can also follow the Left Hand Path. The ideal form of death worship that I respect is more like an inner contemplation on death and letting the lower sides within you cease their reign for the glory of the higher Self. Personally I'm not that much interested in the "Kill the christians" rhetoric but I do understand its importance at some situations to some individuals. That kind of christian or other false religious influences must be cleansed within and usually it takes those aggressive and dark forms at first. That's the destructive side that obliterates something undesired within and hopefully gives birth to something higher and more profound. But that happens only if we see the process as an inner struggle and not as an external war against something that we think is to blame for our misery. Satanists often think that "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" but they forget that the will of the personality, the lower mind or the hive mind, is not the true will of an individual. Personal wishes, hopes and fears are easily confused to be the voice of the inner master, Lucifer, and they must be discriminated from each other. Solve et Coagula. That's the reason for the evocative approach that was used especially with "Saturnal". By the way, actually the working title for that song was "Hail Satan" but it changed to "Hail Saturn" which you'll find in the lyrics. So much for that credibility.

The artwork has a perfect connection with the songs, the illustrations follows the story posing with movements that seem to recreate the mysticism expressed by the sounds. Who is the artist who have created it and how did the subject born? Has it a special meaning?
The paintings were created by an American artist called Wiley Trieff. They were suggested to me by Luciano of I, Voidhanger records and I thought they would perfectly fit the atmosphere of the album. It were the right synchronicities that made paintings a good choice for the cover art. I'm glad that you feel the illustrations are in connection with the songs as it's always little bit challenging to integrate two different art forms that have been created separately without conscious connection. The inner sleeve picture is my personal favorite as well as the larger picture inside the booklet. Especially the narrow path, the door where the light glows makes it impressive and important to me.

Present again in the second part of the disc the songs of "Serpent Ascending" revitalized by more "effective" production has been, in terms of result, a great move. What has changed since you wrote those songs when you have write the new ones? How you give life to your songs? I think that being elementary and evil melodic makes them really interesting.
Thank you for the feedback! I too think that the first demo sounds better now. The main difference between the older songs and the new ones is the more crystallized idea of what Serpent Ascending is about. In a way the first demo was more ecstatic (though mostly through Shadows affection) and enthusiastic throwing a lot of different ideas and symbolism around while the new songs are more focused on the main idea they are to express. When writing songs I have a feeling that every song should have certain fulfilment. They are the audible manifestation of something perfect and totally balanced and that's how I want the songs to be like. They might not sound perfect but they still are! It is the soul that touches and gets touched. Especially with "The Mournful Pilgrimage" I couldn't go to the technical details that much as the songs were supposed to be bare. There's a paradox here: while the soul or a core of a song is perfect, the earthly form is not, but in our world it's never those perfect things that touch us the most.

One of the criticisms I've read on the Internet in many articles about the disc, are linked to a "canonical" presence in the proposal. Assuming that when it talk about old school, go outside by the canon is not necessarily synonymous of quality, you believe that there is a tendency to write about music listening very little to the stuff you have in the hands?
I believe you are right with your view here. There are reviewers and other people that don't really take time to listen to the records and they only make their minds based on what they think something is supposed to be and not what it really is. They have heard someone describe the music as old-school death metal or something equally conventional and then they think it's probably the same old shit again and only hear things that support their preconception. They have locked themselves up and can't get out to hear those little things they have never heard before. If something doesn't fit their modern metal world of "perfect sound" and appearance with nothing inside they will hate it. And the next day they'll whine because nothing new is happening in the genre.

Extreme metal has become "stuff" within the reach of all, gone are the days of tape-trading, racing to buy a CD just came out because otherwise it not found more, if not absurd shipments arriving after months and months, the Internet has destroyed the metal world and have shaped another much-oriented consumerism. What has yet to say this music? How much passion it takes to go on their own path? Except for a few big name, the gains in metals are little and are increased the personal expenses to give shape to a serious self-produced record, what prospects you see for the scene?
I think it's time to take things on the next level. There's a lot of things that music can deliver to people. Not just good riffs and melodies but something that is really done with the spirit and not just to play some music. It's ok to be entertaining but if entertainment is the only value music has it's empty. What I wish to do is my part in the process that is the beginning of the new era that will take things higher in the long run. I believe people need more than just the music. They need the Idea of something deeper that goes beyond the external expression and form.


Finland is a land that had always gave us masterpieces in the field of death metal, thanks to bands like Amorphis, Convulse, Mordicus, Demilich, Demigod, Burial and the list is really long. There is also a growing movement of new act, among the last I had the pleasure of listening to Abhordium and Fleshred that filling new lines, how you live your national scene you that have given it more in artistic terms with many bands?
Lot of things are happening in the finnish scene and it's quite hard to have a complete view of it. Black metal scene has always been very strong here but I wouldn't say that underground death metal is really that big thing in Finland. It's mostly recognized elsewhere.

What do you think about the growing, in some case trendy, choice to offer a selection of old school sound particularly oriented to the Swedish side of this genre?
Trends come and go. I think there might even be some old-school bands that are almost mainstream before the peak of the "trend" is over (if it really ever ends as there's always something new that is considered old-school). Serpent Ascending is not really trying to be old-school and I have never wanted do anything just for the sake of being old-school. I wrote the songs and recorded them in a way they deserved to be heard. The sound that supported the songs just happened to be what it is. Being old-school isn't wrong though. It's just not any of my main interests with Serpent Ascending.

How is grown in Jarno Nurmi the belief that the genre that he wanted to play was death metal? What were the records that you have oriented and indoctrinated on this? And if you were to divide them for musical and textual component which would be your personal top ten?
I've been a huge death metal fan for years so it was quite natural to start playing death metal. With Serpent Ascending I didn't really think of a genre when I started. The main thing was the atmosphere and the ideology and at the point that I started writing music again after a long break it came out as death metal yet influenced by other kind of metal music too. I can't just stick to death metal when choosing my favorites so here's a list of wider variety. If I was to choose of what albums Serpent Ascending is made of musically the list would look like this:

Iron Maiden - "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son"
Celtic Frost - "Into The Pandemonium"
Sentenced - "North From Here"
Bruce Dickinson - "The Chemical Wedding"
Emperor - "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk"
Morbid Angel - "Covenant"
Type 0 Negative - "Slow, Deep And Hard"
Voivod - "Dimension Hatröss"
Iced Earth - "Burnt Offerings"
Fates Warning - "The Spectre Within"

Some of these albums already have some occult lyrics but that kind of influences can not be restricted just to the bands that I've listened to. There's lot of books and different tides of occultism that have influenced me during the years and helped me in the creation of my path. For example H.P. Blavatsky, J. Nefastos, Shaivism and Shaktism in general, etc.

You're collaborating with the Italian label I, Voidhanger, as you come into contact with it? Did you received any other proposals? If yes, what was the merits that made you choose them?
I didn't receive any other propositions. At the time when the Mournful Pilgrimage demo was finished I thought I'll just wait for some time to see what happens. I didn't promote or spread the dome around anyway so I was surprised how fast things started happening. Luciano from I, Voidhanger records contacted me and I knew that it was right thing to do. His enthusiasm, dedication and respect for interesting and original forms of music impressed me.

Serpent Ascending is a solo-project, but you think there will be opportunities, maybe through guest musicians, to see you play on a stage the pieces of "Enigma Unsettled"?
If it depends on me there will surely be a live band playing these tracks. Probably that will happen after the next album. I've had a feeling that I must lay down the foundation for the band first and seek out the right direction before inviting anyone to join. Because Serpent Ascending is not just about playing the songs I couldn't have demanded anyone to take part in the process at these early stages.

It is often said that the true quality of the bands can be quantified only in live situation, you believe this statement is entirely true? As a musician what do you believe is served playing in more reality and have the opportunity to try your hand with a good number of artists on stage?
It is partially true when considering a band. At the moment Serpent Ascending is not really a band and it is not playing live so it can not be judged by that kind of merits. People have to hear the music and other contents to make an opinion. Of course many have already made their mind merely by the fact that SA is a solo project and thought that such "bands" can not be taken seriously but that's not a problem. There is no defined path that should be followed when forming a band.

There's been, in your metalheads life, an experience life that you feel unforgettable?
As a metal fan there's been a lot of unforgettable moments. The first time I saw Iron Maiden with Bruce Dickinson in 1999 stays in my heart. Totally different kind of experience was seeing Ride For Revenge perform couple of years ago. That really changed my view of live performances. Many bands speak of live rituals but that's the only performance I have seen that really deserves to be called as such.

What will be the next step? What should we expect now by you?
I am writing songs for the next Serpent Ascending album. There will be certain similarities with the songs relesed this far and also something totally different. Maybe there's some more variety between different songs and the feelings. That is important for there will be more integral lyrical concept that goes through the whole album that requires a wider scale of feelings. 

I'll give you my personal good luck and I thank you for the availability, we reached the end of the interview and does not stand to greet us and launch a final direct message to those who follow us.
Thank you for the interview and thanks to anyone who read this far. I hope Serpent Ascending will be able to give listeners even a little hint of those things that can be found through patient quest for that which is true and never disappers. It can be a dangerous path but definitely worth the effort.

       

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