Taking after a peerless slate of bands that blend sludge, grind, death metal, and hardcore (including Trap Them, Nails, Early Graves, Harm’s Way, Weekend Nachos, Full of Hell, and even Xibalba), Snakes has composed an extremely dark and aggressive record that proves altogether abrasive and highly effective. The droning feedback, massive chugs, furious riffs, and grating screams coalesce into an utterly filthy smog of punishingly grim ferocity. Even if it isn’t necessarily the most original thing in the world when compared with the rest of that aforementioned slate of bands, the EP indisputably accomplishes its goal of sheer savagery with great efficiency.
The first track, “Thin the Herd,” showcases that characteristic perfectly, as its short length doesn’t take away from its poignancy. Feedback leads the song in, then four snare hits count off the rest of the band and a slurry of drum fills and guitar chords nail you right in the face. The vocal patterns are almost chant-like, and totally pummeling. The instrumentals of the following track, “Cold and Lost,” sort of take after that tendency, as they’re a bit slower than they were on “Thin the Herd.” It does pick up, however, and you can practically see the circle pits and pile-ons. Feedback leads everything back out, and a poppy sample plays. “Waking up and Decomposing” comes next, downtempo as hell and unrelentingly aggressive. The last track, “Confined,” is a total reversal, characterized by blistering speed, at least until the listener runs into a dynamic shift to static bass chugging and a menacing floor tom pattern that, after increasing to include the guitars and cymbals, repetition leads to the song’s closing.
When all is said and done, Snakes’s forte clearly lies in their channeling of pure darkness through influences from a wide range of metal/hardcore influences, even if their spectrum doesn’t seem quite as wide as some of their peers that even go so far to employ black metal (click here to listen to Full of Hell – “Dregs of Pluto”) or cleaner passages (click here to listen to Early Graves – “Quietus”). But the effect is equally strong, if not as interesting. Their more straightforward style serves to amplify the music’s energy, and balance it out with the intensely moody tones fostered mainly by the static, lower-tempo passages. As the band matures as artists, it will be extremely interesting to see whether they opt for a more analytically compelling style or a more no-bullshit, high energy style. Based purely on this record, it seems closer to the latter, more Weekend Nachos/Nails-influenced variety.