January 20, 2015

Snakefeast - The Pythoness

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Artwork by Michael Sturrock

The unusual line up of instruments for this album alone arouses my curiosity… vocals, bass, drums, cello, sax… and unusual is the listening experience that the quartet from Baltimore/MD called Snakefeast offers us with its debut The Pythoness. It could roughly be called progressive blackened sludgy jazz, but it combines so many different stylistic elements, that it forcibly resists to be pigeonholed

There’s a huge amount of progressiveness and technicality with a quite clear sound, yet with a thick and heavy atmosphere to it, the latter almost solely created by the incredible abrasive vocals (oh yes I'm prone to falling in love with vocals). They use a raspy black metal style, and dark extensive roars that lend a droney sludge/doom metal feel and a beautiful contrast to the clean bouncy, percussive, funky sounds of the bass and the drums.

The vocals here are really used as an additional instrument doing a job equal to the other instruments. And the jobs are somehow divvied up, like bass, drums and sax throw in the progressive, jazzy elements, the vocals the sludge/doom metal, and the cello (plus sax) the melancholic melodies. Combined they create an atmospheric tension between a distant coolness and an oppressive heat, occasionally relieved by moments of quiet ambience.

It’s hard to keep track of what’s going on within this frame of atmospheres. Everything is constantly and erratically changing, be it the poly-rhythmic drum and bass work, the tempo or the various styles that include jazz, balck/sludge/doom metal punk’n’roll and what not (I think I even hear some ska and humppa beats). My diagnosis of this 42 minutes long musical insanity would be manic-depression with occasional episodes of melancholia.

So it’s not just the unusual choice of instruments that is intriguing, it’s the way Snakefeast use them - especially those stunning vocals - to create something extraordinary that makes The Pythoness really exciting and compelling. It may take several listenings (and still may not be for everyone), but it’s well worth the effort.

The Song "Wither" is featured on The Wicked Lady Show 79

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Note: For physical copies of The Pythoness go to the Grimoire Records Bandcamp.

  1. I definitely didn't care for this on first listen, mostly because of the vocals. It's interesting that "Blight" (to my ears) is one of the harder songs to get into and is first, although that said, the melancholy ending makes me...feel things. "Whither" is definitely a good place to try to warm up to it.

    1. The first listen made me think "wtf is this", too :D, but the vocals caught me instantly and listen after listen the whole thing grew on me.
      And I agree, "Wither" is a good song to start with.