Extreme Black Metal from the Heart of Sri Lanka

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Early yesterday morning I got an email from Nathan Birk on behalf of Invictus Productions about a “new” black metal release from the premier extreme label. Typically, I’d just kind of ignore this type of press kit because aside from some of the original/unique bands in the war metal/bestial blackened death metal/extreme black metal microgenre (like Revenge, DiocletianGenocide Shrines), most modern bands playing this style tend to be extremely interchangeable. However, the country of origin gave me pause, so I surfed on over to Invictus’ Bandcamp page to see what was up. If you press play on the embed below, ladies and gentlemen, what you’ll hear is a bestial black metal band from the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka. Let me introduce you to Serpents Athirst.

Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration is the first EP from Colombo natives Serpents Athirst. Although the Invictus page lists a release date of 2015, the stream promoted by CVLT Nation was only posted yesterday, and Birk’s email said the release was brand new, so take that info for what you will. Far more important than the release date is the horrific black metal these four dudes are throwing down. The three-track EP opens with an ominous choral hymn juxtaposed against sounds of violence and panic. This moment, more than any of the extreme metal contained within, sets the the tone of the release and establishes the character of the music. To understand this, though, we need to explore a bit of Sri Lankan history.

Sri Lanka is an ancient island off the southeast coast of India. Evidence of human settlement dates back 125,000 years, and it has a rich Buddhist history that extends to at least 29 BC. It has been a critical nation in terms of both world trade and strategic positioning throughout global development, and the little nation of about 20-million people is currently one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Moreover, it ranks high on the Human Development Index, and by all outward appearances is a nation of peace, thoughtfulness, and culture.

Beneath this veneer, though, is a nation that has largely been ripped apart by civil war. After colonial oppression was relieved in the 1950s, a slow simmering racial and religious tension began to creep into the social structure of Sri Lanka. The majority Sinhalese were accused of aggression and intolerance toward the Tamil minority, resulting in terror attacks and violence against the Federal Dominion. Eventually, this spite boiled over into a full-blown civil war that lasted nearly thirty years and finally culminated in 2009 when the Federal military crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. All told, the civil war and other racial tensions cost the nation 40,000 Tamil lives and displaced 294,000 people, many of them Muslim minorities or aboriginal Vedda. The civil war was a terrible period in the history of a nation struggling to educate its populace, revitalize its rich heritage, and find peace after colonial meddling.

Hearing that history, you may be justified in thinking that the civil war has taken a great toll on the spirits of the Sri Lankan people. From personal experience, though, I can tell you that the young people of this nation are some of the friendliest, most patient, and most understanding people I know. I’ve had the great fortune to befriend a number of students and faculty members from Sri Lanka the last few years, even getting to participate in their new year festival last year, and I am constantly in awe of their peaceful and hopeful demeanor.

The dichotomy, then, between the horrors of the past and hope for the future seems to be the defining characteristic of this EP as so properly captured in the introductory segment of “Heralding Ceremonial Mass Obliteration”. The black metal that follows that portentous manifesto is raw and extreme, full of murky production, endless blast beats, pollutant riffs, and vocals that sound like the singer is gargling refuse. The music, though extreme, is lent a greater weight through understanding its cultural baggage. It sounds like a rejection of the institutions that caused so much sectarian bloodshed and reckless hate. By vocalizing the fear, violence, and rage of people who lived through decades of oppression and war, Serpents Athirst, like their countrymen in Genocide Shrines,  seem to be exorcising their national demons, and that’s definitely something worth discussing.

Facebook | Bandcamp

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Shit is bestial!

  • Edward/Breegrodamus™

    Edward’s queue for this morning:

    1) Serpents Athirst

    2) Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Arc EP

    3) Ehnahre’s Douve

    Having weekdays off >>>>>>

    • welcome back sweetie!

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        Mr. McNulty.

        • are you and Lady Negrodamus going to see Dirty Grandpa this weekend, huehuehue

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I’m actually working all weekend, but then I have five days off.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            How bad is it supposed to be? I feel so bad for Robert De Nero having to reduce himself to that.

          • currently at 11% on rottentomatoes.
            it looks excruciatingly bad.

      • Thank U sir!

        • np. someday i’ll find something not on your wishlist and roll the dice!

  • This gets a Fenriz GIF. Savage!!!!!!!

    http://i.giphy.com/9aRlAbmydFnqg.gif

    • Dubs

      I think the EP format works really well for this style. My problem with a lot of black metal in this vein is that the songs blend together too much. Having a shorter run time works perfectly.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        This is more black/death, I think.

        • Dubs

          Eh, you know what I’m getting at.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Do I, doc? Do I………??

          • Dubs

            Fine, ugh. My problem with a lot of black/death metal in this vein…

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Hahaha. I DEMAND CLARIFICATION!

      • Shorter run time on this style is always better in my opinion. It becomes draining after a certain put. I like a nice 20 to 30 minutes of bestial ass kicking tops for a release like this.

        • Dubs

          I think that’s part of what made that Revenge album last year so powerful. Just nonstop aggression in a short span.

          • Yeah! Last week I listened to past Revenge albums and none of them are as fast and crushing as this new one.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Behold.Total.Rejection was a whopping 41 minutes!

          • Dubs

            41 minutes isn’t too long 😉

          • And unholy fuck, does it not disappoint.

    • CyberneticOrganism
    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Ooh yeah!

  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    Can’t say the music is for me, but I recently got some Sri Lanka coffee from a local roaster and it was pretty decent (although a little sour). Also very upset this morning that the new Ulver only has two songs posted to Spotify. As a poor man, this upsets me.

    • Being a poor man<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    • Sir Tapir The Based

      Solution: stop being poor.

      • YourLogicIsFlushed

        It would actually be fairly easy if someone would pull off Fight Club-esque destruction Wells Fargo’s records. Student Loans<<<

        • Dubs

          You got any held by Nelnet or Great Lakes?

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I got Nelnet.

          • Dubs

            I think they went around and bought up a bunch of students’ debt from other lenders.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            Those bastards.

            (Mine have been Nelnet the entire time, lol)

          • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

            Mine are held by Navient now

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            I have some GL, but not as much as WF.

      • Hammerdong Von Spookypoop

        You still owe me money. How many times do I have to tell you to stop giving your booty hole to Smitty and the Nightwish keyboard guy for free? If I put you out on the corner again, best have my money!

        http://i.imgur.com/wgjS8cB.gif

        • Sir Tapir The Based

          This is getting too silly.

        • CyberneticOrganism

          Lolz, the Nightwish keyboard guy

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            I’ve seen him once in a store. I wish I had killed him then.

          • Steampoop The Nose Hair Hero

            Lol, ever heard the CD he did about Scrooge McDuck?

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            It was BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD

          • Steampoop The Nose Hair Hero

            That’s an understatement!

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I remember seeing something about that awhile back and I just looked it up… yikes.

            https://vimeo.com/92969280

          • Dubs

            I had to ask a European friend about this after the news was released. He told me Scrooge McDuck is huge in Iceland, like Mickey Mouse or something.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Very bizarre how some elements of pop culture seem to stick better in certain places than in others.

          • JWEG
          • Steampoop The Nose Hair Hero

            And the album gets all emotional about Scrooge, for fuck’s sake. I’m more than sure Tuomus is a Bronie off camera, or a furry.

          • Steampoop The Nose Hair Hero

            I think that’s Tapir’s dad.

        • Oh, a Rob Schneider film. Imagine that.

  • It seems that bands in that general area are the most savage. Look at Damaar (دمار) from Lebanon. Also Tetragrammacide from India.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6qeDrBHGSo

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Singapore too.

      • Yup! Fucking Abahoer.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            The mighty Impiety!

          • They better be on the bill for Hells Headbash this year.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Agreed 10 fold.

          • Have you seen them live before?

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Yes. On their only US tour back in October 2011. I swear there were only like 20-30 people there. Met the vocalist, and asked him if they were going to play Torment in Fire and he confirmed. Made my night.

          • Fucking killer!

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Shyaithan was very nice and very soft spoken.

          • That’s awesome man. Speaking of Singapore have you listened to Nechbeyth at all. I have their EP and Full-length. Savage shit.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIM2xUwVxBc

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Never heard the name. Like what I hear so far though.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        I used to be in close contact with a Singapore-based band many years back, super cool guys. We shared albums & demos and talked about a collaboration (since we had similar band names) but unfortunately it never panned out.

      • Hammerdong Von Spookypoop

        Keep in mind that the singer of Chthonic just got elected as a legislator over there. Taiwan definitely loves it’s metal, apparently!

  • Damn son

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Jack Bauer.

  • Hammerdong Von Spookypoop

    Fucking shit, this is good! Production could use a little work, but this is brutal as fuck!

    • Production sounds fine to me.

      • Hammerdong Von Spookypoop

        Could use a little work, IMO, but then again you love raw production from what I can tell.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        I like the part where it’s heavy.

        • I liek the blasts.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          That one part where the riff gets all heavy and tremoloy is rad.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            The yelling is neat too. This guy just yells and yells.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            It’s just soooooooooooo crazy…..

          • Hammerdong Von Spookypoop

            That one part where the drums are really fast.

  • Dubs, the music is good, and I liked that you summarized the Sri Lankan history. I said it before, third world countries produced the very best full throttle aggresive music.

    For those poor people that can’t stream on Bandcamp (read that as me):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6crSCtbi2ms

  • RJA

    I know some people have mentioned Katharsis vinyl in the past. So,
    20buckspin has their 2nd, 3rd and 4th records in stock. These don’t usually last long whenever I see them for sale. Also they have new pressings of the first 2 Bestial Warlust records which both kick ass. good day.

    • The Ajna Offensive has them to bro. I picked mine up at Hells Headbangers a while back. They did not last long.

      • I’m still on the hunt for 666 though. That album is fucking perfection!!!

      • Dubs

        Ajna Offensive tends to be a good place to look for rare releases here in the US.

        • With a good variety of music too. I find that Arcane Alter does the same but just for black metal.

      • RJA

        I didn’t realize until just now when I looked at their discography that they (Katharsis) have a split with Black Witchery?

        • Yeah good luck finding it 😉

          It’s near impossible to find for cheap. Last time I checked on Ebay it was listed for $80+.

      • RJA

        They were already sold out of Kruzifixxion which was the one I needed!

  • Listening again.

  • Capra Hircus Hubertus

    This is good. The guitar could use a little more punch. Everything else is rather savage.

  • Definitely hearing a lot of Diocletian.

    • In the riffs for sure.

    • Hammerdong Von Spookypoop

      Hearing a bit of old school Immortal in there as well.

  • nbm02ss

    Definitely a fan. Good stuff.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I have an interview at Red Lobster soon. I’ll be busy today so I won’t be on much.

    • Steampoop The Nose Hair Hero

      Good luck!

    • Hoe many jobs have you had this year? Seems like a lot. Mens Warehouse, GameStop, Now this one.

      • Sir Tapir The Based

        JJD runs American businesses alone.

      • COAL ROLL

        in his defense, when I was 20 or whatever I had several different jobs before I figured out what I wanted to do with myself

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Men’s Warehouse didn’t interview me.

        • I was talking about Jobs. Not interviews.

          • Dubs

            Sometimes you gotta grind if you don’t have a career.

          • Indeed.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            I never worked there.

    • COAL ROLL

      GL bro

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    A couple of years back I did a coursework and group presentation on the Sri Lankan library service. Not doing so well, but with hope for the future. The Sri Lankan girl in our group whose idea it was was a smart, friendly sort, if quiet. Anyhoo, an excellent write up and I look forward to blasting this when I get home!

  • COAL ROLL

    What’s the deal with the self-promotion posts out of nowhere today in the FB group?

    • Dubs

      I noticed that. I dunno.

      • COAL ROLL

        one of them is actually pretty cool in a Molenaar kinda way, the other two are pretty ayyyyyyyy

        • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

          Is Tapir plugging his rape-folk band?

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            I don’t have FB

          • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

            How is your rape-folk band going, then?

          • A Rape Folk band? I must say I’m not familiar with this genre.

          • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

            Shrugs

            I think its finnish

          • #TreesNRoofiesNShit

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            I dunno where he got the rape part.

          • you have no weenie!

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Merry christmas, fuckface.

          • i’m tempted to tell everyone what you did

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Don’t tell them, they’ll think I’m a moderately decent guy.
            Also thx for the albuum.

          • and thx to you! your secret’s safe for now

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            If I tell too much about it it’ll become too mainstream

        • C-Mole has some pretty groovy stuff on BC too! not metal, but still

  • I’ve noticed that Genocide Shrines, Serpents Athirst, and Tetragrammacide like to sport the Sun Wheel. I find it interesting that bands like this that are NOT white that play war-metal do this. I think it represents something entirely different in their cases. What do you think?

    • Dubs

      It’s part of the Buddhist/Hindu legacy.

      • I figured it was more cultural. Thanks for responding.

        • Dubs

          No problem. If you look at Japanese maps, you’ll often see the symbol (but bent to the left rather than the right) used to mark the location Buddhist temples. The symbol itself has been used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and even some other cultures (like the Navajo) for centuries, perhaps as far back as the 2nd century BC.

          • Interesting. I’ve seen different styles of it used before. I’ll have to do more research on it. Eduardo Ramírez’s (Volahn) Aztec worship band Blue Hummingbird on the Left uses it for their albums imagery.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmfFoaiUnd4

          • Dubs

            The use of it with Blue Hummingbird on the Left likely relates to the pro-First Nations leanings of the BTC. The symbol is often used as a representation of life and health.

            I still think it’s kind of dumb for white folks to try to re-appropriate the symbol. Like really, do you want to spend the rest of your life explaining that it’s a Buddhist manji rather than a Nazi swastika you have tattooed on your arm?

          • Hahaha, nah I hear you man. I saw some skinny crust punk at MDF years back who had them tattooed everywhere on his body. He wasn’t a Nazi punk, he was one of those guys that’s trying to take back the sun wheel. Dumb.

          • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

            White people shouldnt be trying to take back much of anything

          • this reminds me of a funny joke from Clerks 2, which i shall refrain from quoting here…

          • “It’s okay! I’m taking it back!”

          • Dubs

            I think we get the reference.

          • I just want the new Skáphe album.

          • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

            Ill be looking forward to it now too

          • I see the Fallen Empire Records store is closed as of now. They must be updating it for the album to drop on the 30th.

          • LVL 10 BLACKBEARD

            I was trying to ordrr from them last week and it was down. That store is down more than up

          • They really need a new system for their store. Storenvy or Bigcartel or something

          • It’s even trickier when you’re an old Indian guy who hunts Rakshasa in a Jewish neighborhood.
            (11th one down)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Kolchak:_The_Night_Stalker_episodes

          • Dubs

            Ha! is that a good show?

          • Oh my yes. It’s a classic.

          • Bossicus thee Rossicus

            I have that show, but still need to watch it. Piqued my interest because of X Files

  • Stockhausen

    Shirt idea:
    “I went to the Toilet ov Hell and all I got was this EP and a brief history of Sri Lanka.”

  • Waynecro

    I like vocals that sound like the singer is gargling refuse. Also good: vocals that sound like the singer swallowed a bunch of unchewed tortilla chips.

  • 365ChaosRiddenDays

    Speaking about Black Metal, Almyrkvi is a new solo project of Garðar S Jónsson who also plays in Sinmara, in these times “Icelandic Black Metal” seems the equivalent for “quality” and if you dig “Atmospheric Black Metal” this is recommended: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE9o-paBdls

    • Dubs

      I shall check this out

      • 365ChaosRiddenDays

        Hi Dubs, this upcoming EP is entitled “Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom” but there’s no release date yet, there’s a facebook page and the label is Van Records.