Formed in 2010 by Maggiebeth Sand and Mark Powell, English symphonic rock/metal band, Serpentyne, are authors of a musical movement characterised by a merging of sound and styles.
Their first album, “Stella Splendens” (2010) was based solely on medieval music and mythical themes featuring the ethereal voice of Maggiebeth Sand and Mark Powell’s strings. Their second, “Myths and Muses” (2014) added elements of world and dance music to the band’s sound. “Myths and Muses” is an album with a very different spirit from “Stella Splendens-“ more lively, and rhythmic, and less “classic”.
In September 2016 came the latest, “The Serpent’s Kiss”, which further changes direction from the sound point of view while preserving the mythical themes of previous albums.
“The Serpent’s Kiss” consists of a symphonic rock / metal foundation that uses more diverse ethnic nuances while maintaining a genuine “British” base. The ghost of the past is always present, but the centerpiece is Maggiebeth Sand, whose subtle voice, similar to Loorena McKennitt’s (for unmistakable air) and Candice Night (for sweetness) gives a sacred, refined aura, yet an extremely powerful emotion to the songs.
There is an incandescent and sunny arabian elegance in the original song, “Spirits of the Desert,” an exotic style that also gives the epic title track “The Serpent’s Kiss” a mysterious and obscure sensuality. However, the title track has a chameleon style and in its structure there are melodic themes from a couple of Macedonian melodies.
“The Dark Queen” is notable for the almost perverse apocalyptic darkness and sensuality but it is, at the same time, an enthusiastic and gritty epic.
“Helen Of Troy” and “Brigantia” differ from other songs with their military, martial and solemn epic sound. Where “Helen of Troy” seems to be totally infused with the dramatic and tragic Greek myth, in “Brigantia” (the Celtic goddess) there is the liveliness of a Celtic, Pagan touch.
“Jeanne d’Arc” for almost a minute features a whispering prayer (somewhat disturbing to tell the truth) and then jumps into a sound between the Celtic and the medieval- between the sacredness and a bright and adventurous vivacity.
“Lammas Night” and “Morrighan’s Jig” share by a strongly Celtic, pagan liveliness. In “Lammas Night” the rhythms are powerful and savage, with arrangements of dance music that link the song to the previous album “Myths And Muses”. It incorporates a traditional Croatian melody.
“Morrighan’s Jig” is based on two jigs (a form of lively folk music spread in infinite forms in many regions of Europe) blending powerful rock structure, medieval arrangements, dance and cutting progressive solos. The Morrighan or “ghost queen” is a character of the Irish myth.
“Salterello” originates from the 14th century Italy. The Serpentyne version is an energetic dance tune with cutting-edge solo guitars of neoclassic metal, dance arrangements and piano touches jumping out.
“Viking Blood” as a title it is dominated by Nordic Viking sounds, with the abundant use of nyckelharpa and the virtuoso, cutting-edge guitar and keyboards that are derived from prog-rock. This is the only track in which lead vocals feature Nigel Middleton (the band’s bassist) who delivers a very good vocal performance.
The concluding “Game of Thrones” is a cover of the soundtrack of the same TV series, a passionate, solemn and mysterious piece, with bluesy guitar. It then develops in a dreamlike style propped up by a passionate solo of neoclassical style and fairy-tale choirs. Serpentyne’s cover is better than the original, with a moving intensity.
Serpentyne’s “The Serpent’s Kiss” aligns with symphonic metal bands like Epica, Within Temptation and Nightwish, but also with the folk-rock of Blackmore’s Night and the Celtic metal of Eluveitie. Serpentyne’s symphonic metal is definitely less pompous than the songs of many exponents of the genre.
Maggie Sand’s voice combines, expression, technique and timbre, to have a certain originality in the folk / symphonic panorama. Great and charismatic is also the voice of bassist Nigel Middleton, who sometimes, in timbre and stylistically reminds you of David Byron of Uriah Heep (not the falsetto.)
The musicians are technically very advances, and “The Serpent’s Kiss” as a whole is a good album, well-inspired. Having changed the sound has helped the band; there is a good margin of improvement in this direction.
Recommended for folk metal / rock lovers who like symphonic metal guitars.
Thanks for the review guys!