Serpents - State Of War
Chapter 1: Enter The Serpent:
Serpents have been around longer than most fans may know. The band released 3 cassettes from 1989-1992. Kazim stated the cassettes were really made for friends and for selling at the live gigs. Due to the huge demand for the cassettes the band turned to Hauke Dressler for help officially publishing the cassettes. For publishing, Dressler named the label Negative Choice. With all the good vibes from the tape sales, Kazim decided it was time to release Serpents first album. In 1993 Gothic Arts published 'Terminal Breath' CD and in 1995 they also released the 'Have Fun' CD single as well. I picked up the album shortly after it was released and was totally blown away with their sound and style of the music. I must have listened to bombastic banging of "Control" a thousand times. The punishing beats opened me up to more diversity in my musical tastes. "Cyberspace" made a statement for how talented the song writing and arrangements ended up in their final versions for the album. "Kill What Kills You", "Our World" and "Killer Agency" continued pummel us with fat swollen basslines that drove electro heads nuts on the dance floors, in cars, bedrooms and anywhere else music could be played. Our local record store owner, Bob would play all sorts of great music in his high tower DJ booth slash cash register. We discovered many bands this way. Listening to 'Terminal Breath' at max volume is a memory I'll never forget. 'Terminal Breath' is a classic that still sounds great even though it came out nearly 25 years ago.
About 7 or 8 years ago a friend of mine asked me if I had 'Terminal Breath'. Of course I did. He wanted to borrow it. I said sure. I told him, " I'll drop it off with Bob at the record store and you can get it from him whenever". What happened next I never told anyone, so BR readers, I am coming clean now. At the time I had just purchased my first brand new car in a long time. It was everything I could have wanted in car. So I am driving over to the record shop to drop off the CD for my friend to borrow. The weather was rainy and misty. As I went to make left turn a car struck me and the car was totaled. Fortunately no one was injured. The car was 5 months old. All of this because I was so excited to share the awesomeness of 'Terminal Breath'. I never told Bob or my friend the accident happened as I left to deliver the CD. My beautiful car was gone, but the Serpents CD survived the trauma of the violent collision. Eventually I was able to lend my pal the CD. All of the tunes on 'Terminal Breath' remind of that day. I don't often play Serpents in my car anymore for obvious reasons. I do play their music in safer environments though.
Throughout the 90's Kazim became friends with Claus from Plastic Noise Experience. They were both on Gothic Arts at the time. They played festivals together. As time moved on Kazim was concentrating heavily on his studies in the field of computer science and soon there was no time for Serpents. Kazim became a live member of Plastic Noise Experience and he still is to this day. Fast-forward to 1999, Out of Line Records asked for a studio album with Claus and Kazim. This collaboration became the Serpents' album titled 'What Is Fear?' The album was completely produced by Claus with Kazim's music and lyrics.
Chapter 2: Cycle Of The Serpent
Now that you have a little bit of the past lets kick off the next phase of Serpents. For about 10 years, the idea to release an album by Serpents has been culminating in the mind of label owner Nader Moumneh. As you may know by now he launched his label with its inaugural release, the monstrous 4CD project 'Old School Electrology'. Serpents contributed the track Komm Naeher", a blistering aural assault comprised of bestial beats carefully crafted for the old power demonstration featured on the compilation. It's definitely a top track on 'Old School Electrology'. Just prior to Serpents appearing on 'Old School Electrology', they released a digital album titled 'Immer Voran!' on Electronic-Music.Biz label. With good fortune, and the stars aligning, Electro Aggression Records with one foot in the past and the other in the present took the opportunity to take most of "Immer Voran!' and include it on the 'State Of War' double onslaught of aggression and all out musical destruction. Once again the Serpents deliver us into a world of sheer exhilaration coupled with the signature old school beats with a touch of dark electro growing on the underbelly of the Serpent.
Chapter 3: State Of War
This brings us to why we are here. 'State Of War' is Serpents' 2015 offering featuring a jam-packed double CD of old school lovin'. The first ideas for 'State Of War' were born sometime in 2012. The idea was to create an album with lyrics revolving around birth, death and everything in between. As time moved ahead, the political environments changed dramatically with the protests in Istanbul Turkey and the wars in Syria, and The Ukraine. The direction of the lyrics changed to reflect on the world in its current state. The artwork may look familiar to the cassette collectors out there. The cover art is an updated version of the artwork for 'The Clock Strikes The Midnight' tape from 1989 that was derived from a cubistic painting. 'State Of War' became the theme and the lyrics reflect that very sentiment. When writing the lyrics for 'State Of War' it was important to Kazim that the audience should think about the songs and the lyrics. It's like looking a picture or a painting and thinking about it. There seems to be a strong leaning towards appreciation for the strengths of the Native American Indians as the cover depicts an Indian chief. Perhaps a book or certain articles on Native American tribes such as the Cheyenne, Sioux, Shoshones, Arapaho, Comanche or Kiowa during the time of the California Gold Rush or the developing of the railroads could have inspired the original ideas of a state of war. With westward expansion and the previously mentioned gold rush and railroads violence was a part of life for the oppressors as well as the oppressed. Since 1989, other political topics have risen to the surface leaving the ‘State Of War’ themes open to some modern interpretation as stated above. One could take it a step further and think about Eli Roth's The Green Inferno film depicting cannibalistic Peruvian native tribe feasting on humans perceived as a threat to their existance with deforrestation with no regard for indigenous populations. Again another interpretation of states of war.
“My Life, My Being" sets the stage for CD1 with a provoking moderate head-bobbing beat with all sorts of background tweaks and twists to add a lot spice to the mix. The lyrics seem to address individuality with the title of the song being repeated many times throughout the track. "Resistance" immediately reminds me of an alien weapon with its terrifying sounds that opens the track up. I can't place the movie, but it certainly sounds like a weapon loading and preparing to decimate its target. The beat heats up to a boiling point and continues to bang away like a lumberjack on a mission to fuck some trees up. The lyrics repeat, "We will resist, we will fight". Plastic Noise Experience takes a whack at “Resistance”. This version is quite similar to the album version for obvious reasons. There are a few parts the have me thinking about the addictive minimal synthpoppers, File Not Found with the robotic vocals similar to that of their killer track “67840, You’ve Got My Number”.
“State Of War" instantly initiates a barrage of drums complimented with turbo-powered BPMs elevated to a max level of satisfying speeds. Kazim's vocals match the aggression of the music to make this the rally cry of the 2015 state of the Serpents. The title of the song reveals the sentiment behind Kazim’s ideas when creating the ‘State Of War’ album. With help of the East Side Capybaras and a few jaguars, Brazilian electro terrorian, Junior AKA kFactor splatters his fingerprints on his rendition of “State Of War”. This version sounds very similar to what kFactor did on his highly rated ‘Ghastly Monolith’ double album on Electro Aggression Records. The old school is still represented for sure, but with a Brazilian twist. The beats continue with the ominous “I’m Near”. Let your mind wander for a moment and ponder the theme to this song while being drilled in the face with strike after strike of merciless blunt force trauma. I don't know who is near, but I'm sure I don't want that person anywhere near me. I get the feeling there is not a good ending to this tale. "Violence" was featured prior to the release of 'State Of War' on a promo CDr that was created as a giveaway celebrating Serpents' appearance at 2014's legendary Belgium Independent Music Festival or B.I.M. for short. Several lucky festival goers snagged this collector's item. Two other songs "Resistance" and "Your Master (AD:Key Remix) also accompanied "Violence". "Violence" is yet another stomper. This time Kazim's war-scream vocals are much more at the forefront of the song than in others giving a violent feel to the song dealing with the very subject. Another brilliant version of "Violence" also appears towards the end of disc 1 'State Of War'. This time, old school electro warriors, Cyber remix their pals Serpents delivering a top notch, speedier ultra-intense reworking sure to capture an ear or two on the dance floor. Blood will flow! Cyber was featured on the tape label Negative Choice mentioned earlier in the review. To the best of my knowledge they released one cassette titled 'Kybernetik' back in 1991. Cyber was featured on several compilations as well. Leave it to EAR and Serpents to revive a sleeping beast! "Inside" adds a nice cold synthline that gives way to a more melodic feel to Kazim's voice. His voice is still angry and edgy, but more restrained this time showing some variations and a different approach. The feeling of isolation creeps over the slower ode to the undead's resting place. Vampirical pulsations of pain, hunger and terror make this a dark reminder of what lurks beyond the realms of humanity. "My Heart Will Beat Again" definitely has a vampire feel to the theme, but one could speculate the theme is a resurrection of someone or something. Resident vampire expert, Olga Grunhzit Hoyt, known for her classic book Lust For Blood, showcasing a history of human and non-human blood lust listened to the Serpents track "My Heart Will Beat Again" and stated, "The title most certainly implicates a vampire as the central theme, but if you actually read the title, you will easily understand this is about being reborn. I have met several vampires and not one; I repeat not one has ever had a heartbeat. I don't have time right now to break down being reborn, but it is subject that fascinated Mr. Nietzsche in his writing regarding eternal recurrence where the cycle of life is not linear but rather cyclical. So Mr. Brutal Resonance, stick that in your pipe and smoke it! You clearly speak from your bung." Kazim's vocals again return to the war-like hard-edged abrasive throat-punch guttural growls that will surely scare the hell out small children and the elderly alike on the track, "Undefined, Unknown Desire". In a recent interview with Taylor Swift in Rolling Stone Magazine, she spoke at great lengths about reconciling with her lost love Harry Styles of boy band One Direction as he was a great source of inspiration for Swift creating her iconic '1989' album. She mentioned possibly covering "Undefined, Unknown Desire" by Serpents to explore her dark side. "This is the perfect track to show a darker side of me, said Swift". When asked how she came to hear of the Serpents, she stated "I'm into all that dark stuff". Rumor has it Kazim agreed to bless the Swift version of his song as long as she blessed his version of her smash hit "Style" to be featured on an old school EBM tribute to pop music later this year. Swift also said" Kazim's vocals will scare most children. I kind of get a kick out of embracing my darkness and terrifying small children with aggressive music, ha ha just kidding!" You will do anything I want you to, is a line of the opening vocal sequence to “Your Master”. There is definitely a control element to the lyrics, but as to the origin of the source of inspiration, one could only speculate. Musically it’s par for the course or standard operating procedure for Serpents. A quick beat with a lot of thumping backed by Kazim’s intensity on the vox! Ad:Key also contributes their remix to “Your Master”. This version is not as rounded as the previous. Ad:Key chops this one up with a more minimalist old school feel to the music. Later in this version Ad:Key summons some airy synthwork to the mix, making this a sweet treat. “You Hide” embraces a slower tempo, which at times brings hints of The Klinik to the surface with the minimal structure, paired with the abrasive voice. Towards the end of ‘State Of War’ a few more remixes await our senses. The Psychic Force has been in the news of late with their return. Old schoolers remember the label KM-Music. Many bands graced their classic roster such as Tyske Ludder, Paranoid, Lost Image, PP?, Individual Totem and of course The Psychic Force. 1992’s ‘Mutilation’ and 1994’s ‘Traces’ are staples in the playlists of those whom prefer a darker approach to their music. The tracks “Mutilation” and “Acceleration” are forever burned into my memory. Some how some way we have a killer remix of “My Heart Will Beat Again”. The Psychic Force takes this version in another direction. At times it is very slow with some atmospherics thrown in. Michelle Christiansen’s vocals are as awesome today as they were 20 + years ago! Label mate, Pyrroline, does another very fine remix of “Resistance”. I found this version to be a complete surprise. Pyrroline are known for their highly technical compositions. The tempo is usually slow to moderate and the songs usually time out in the 5-6 minute range. ‘Ruins Outlast’ came out a few years ago on EAR. There are so many amazing tracks on that album. I feel you truly need to find a destination about and hour or so away and crank ‘Ruins Outlast’ for the ride. There is so much cohesion intertwined to the album. The seamless transition from track to track is tough to match. With that being said, there is a high level appreciation for what Pyrroline created for this remix. They are not an old school influenced band, which makes this uptempo old school version so exceptional. If you told me this was a Pyrroline remix, I would have laughed. Well done Pyrroline! It was only a matter of time until the cross promoting of EAR bands crossed paths with Sweden’s electro stompers, Astma. With their monstrous 42 track double CD ‘600 Pounds Of Body’ we were hammered with an all out assault of 2-3 minute bursts of sheer old school EBM pleasure. When you hear the name Astma you can’t help thinking of the high-powered sinister killing machine, Mr. Miller. Serial killer, Mr. Miller has made numerous appearances, most notable on Astmas’ latest album as well as kFactor’s album. Miller was busy overseeing his remix in Brazil with kFactor as well enjoying some hometown comforts in Sweden with Astma. CNN’s lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer caught up with Mr. Miller via satellite. Blitzer, a lover of old school EBM, especially old school EBM out of Sweden wanted to find out more about Miller’s involvement with Germany’s Serpents and his lusts for murdering the world. Blitzer asked, “How did you end up overseeing the Astma remix of “My Life My Being”? Miller stated, “I was home in my undisclosed location preparing to butcher this hobo who pissed me off the other day. I was just about to slice his right arm off with my Ginsu blade I ordered off QVC years back, when my phone rang. It was Electro Aggression Records label head Nader Moumneh. He wanted me involved along with Astma to give Serpents the Swedish touch. I agreed, as did Astma. It was really that simple.” Unwilling to give any more murderous details to Blitzer, as much as he pushed, Blitzer became frustrated and ended the interview. “We all know what Miller does,” stated Wolf, “He’s a monster and I need ratings and he’s not helping, Fuck him!”. Regarding Astma’s contribution to “My Life My Being” the mode of delivery is what one would expect from Astma. A short burst of EBM energy designed to induce anger and mayhem. The big fat bass lines had Miller in a homicidal frenzy dancing with corpses and using those very corpses to recreate some of Ed Gein’s classic clothing accessories shortly after the final mixing was done. Months later Miller was spotted in Norway wearing a backpack made out of the presumed skin of missing drifter Randolph Pendleton who’s life took a turn for the worst when his wife left him after discovering his perverse tendencies to violate large fruit such a s melons and he also was very fond of the gourd family, especially pumpkins. Anita Rodriguez formerly Anita Pendleton and Randy’s wife stated, “Every time I went to the refrigerator to cut some fruit, there were all sorts of holes in the melons. When I caught Randy naked in the produce section of local grocery store, Pathmark, it then that I realized where all of those holes came from. I’m glad Miller got him. They are both sickos for different reasons. I’ve since remarried and I am very happy now.” Police identified Pendleton’s signature facial hair that became the backpack’s eye catcher as it adorned the small zip pouch pocket in the front of the pack. Miller has not been spotted since.
Chapter 4: The Evolution of Immer Voran!
‘Immer Voran! is the title of the second disc of ‘State Of War’. It is important to know that although disc 2 is titled ‘Immer Voran’, it’s simply not a complete physical version of the 2010 digital album. Tracks 1-10 are the same. EAR replaced tracks 11 on with updated versions of Serpents’ classics mostly reworked by EBM elders, Plastic Noise Experience. So the first track “Steh Auf” gives us a nice simplistic EBM beat with a little experimentation thrown into the mix. I like the track, but I feel it may work better later on in the track order. After 17 punishing tracks on disc one, “Steh Auf” is a little off the Serpents’ traditional mode of operation. Fear not my friends, a blistering face pounder, 2015 style comes to the alter of EBM in the form of “Komm Noch Naeher” that translates to something like come even closer. You remember the earlier version of this track from the ‘Old School Electrology’ compilation mentioned way above. This is an absolute thrasher filled with speedy beats mixed with cool switchovers to change up the tempo. Al, the highly gifted game programmer and resident anaconda that reminded us of his involvement with Capcom’s Mortal Kombat series of video games in the Astma review back in August returned with his thoughts on “Komm Noch Naeher”. Al told Brutal Resonance insiders that Capcom has an offer in the works to use the chorus from the previously mentioned track to be the soundtrack to the spectre ninja, Scorpion’s fatality moves on MK10. Instead of saying his trademark “Get over here”, he will say “Komm Naeher” before he pulls your spinal column out and slices off your head. “Immer Voran!” builds up slowly in the beginning then eventually leads us to a nice place full of slicing and swirling synth arrangements that walk the line of alien terror sounds and mechanical dominace. “Folge Mir” or “Follow Me” caught my eye with the German word Folge, which is very similar to Fogle, and to be more precise Jared Fogle of Subway infamy. This Jared guy has to be one of the most hated people in the world. Of course this song has nothing to do with Mr. Fogle. Lets take the cover art from ‘State Of War’ again. There is an Indian chief depicted on the cover that looks like he means business. Perhaps he should meet Mr. Fogle and have a word or two with him? “Folge Mir” could be the result of D.A.F. if they used performance-enhancing drugs, like a steroid to add some extra punch to the song. “Erwache” glides along delivering a nice instrumental that leads us to “Glaub An Mich”. With a repetitive toned-down beat, “Glaub An Mich” shines as a top track on disc 2. Towards the end, the beat kicks up a notch or two delivering a cool tune with some chanting samples woven into the fabric of the composition. “Wer Bist Du” and “Erinnere Dich” take off in another direction with some glitchy minimal influences on “Erinnere Dich” and some spiraling synth swarms defining “Wer Bist Du”. Both tracks retain their EBM base and add their individual flairs. “Zeig Dich” is one of the few tracks clocking in at 3 minutes or less. Most tracks hit the 4 minute plus ranges. “Waehle” adds some wild synth pieces set to big beats. This is where the original digital of ‘Immer Voran’ ends and the EAR bonuses begin. Tracks 11-18 are tributes to Serpent classics like “Das Zweite Leben” and “Das Zweite Leben V2015”. You get the original version from ‘Terminal Breath’ as well as an updated version for 2015. Both versions shred. “Wings Of Darkness” first appeared on ‘The Clock Strikes The Midnight’ cassette from 1989. It appeared again on ‘What Is Fear’ album from 1999. Now you have that same version included on ‘State Of War’ as a best of in the bonus EAR content on this version of ‘Immer Voran!’ As you know by now Claus Kruse is not only a member of Serpents, but he also is main man behind electro masters Plastic Noise Experience. PNE released a lot of material from 1990 to this present day. They released music on many famous labels of the past like KK Music and Gothic Arts. Since around 2004, PNE have released several albums with Belgium’s Alfa Matrix. “Kill The 6”, “Dream Destructor”, “Gold”, “Anything Wrong” and “Small Town Boy” continued to be in my EBM rotation. There are so many great examples of why Plastic Noise Experience is a force in the electro scene.
Chapter 5: Experience The Plastic Noise
The final tracks on EAR’s version of ‘Immer Voran!’ feature Plastic Noise Experience demonstrating their take on vintage Serpents’ tracks, “Killer Agency”, “Kill What Kills You”, “Protection”, “Erwache” and “Second Life” (Das Zweite Leben)” to round out the classics from ‘Terminal Breath’ album and ‘L’Age D’Or’ cassette. All of the PNE reworkings take what we loved on the originals and added an extra turbo boost to the mix. If the originals packed a devastating strike to the gut, then the remixes will surely feel like a Doom Blade or Gravedigger combo move made famous by the previously mentioned spectre ninja, Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. The hated spectre ninja was quoted in the New York Times as saying “I love removing the unworthy’s spinal column while Serpents play in my iPod. It gives a sense of purpose to my deadly art.” Also, every track remixed by Plastic Noise Experience is exclusive to this 2015 EAR version of ‘Immer Voran!’
Chapter 6: Final Analysis
With ‘State Of War’ being the final piece of the EAR trilogy, we have been spoiled with 6 discs of all out amazement. From the old school EBM stompers, Astma and Mr. Miller to the Brazilian bearded sensation kFactor and now the dark ride into the heart of the Serpents. There is plenty of music to enjoy. I highly recommend immersing yourself into the old school by purchasing this testament to the existence of the legendary Serpents! With all EAR products you will never get time-killing filler tracks. Every composition is a labor of love from both EAR as well as Kazim.
For help with references a great starting point is to re-read the Astma and kFactor reviews as this is the final piece to trilogy! Grab some Native American Victory Tea with some Sue Bee honey and relax and enjoy!
Check out the video for "Resistance" now!!!!!!
Oct 04 2015
Reviewer since 2012
Share this review