‘Trail Of The Serpent’
Candlelight Records (May 2015)
Swedish sludge duo Galvano create a rumbling tumult on this four-track, 40-minute-long album, the follow-up to their 2012 debut ‘Two Titans’.
The Gothenburg-based partnership has been unleashing mayhem for a decade and their experience shines through in the controlled, fluid arrangements on offer. ‘Trail Of The Serpent’ wraps you in a warm, thick woollen blanket and then tries to squeeze the breath from your lungs with unremitting cruelty.
The dense, fuzzy embrace that this duo create purely with guitar and drums is airless and suffocating. They create a strangely withdrawn and muffled sound, their passion and ferocious distortion buried beneath layers of pain and filth. Like High On Fire in a steaming bog, slowly sinking and drowning.
There is excellence in their music – particularly in the opening song ‘The Gathering’, with its distant, plodding groove – but perhaps too little differentiation or diversity to really stand out. The remainder of the album continues in a very similar pattern, skirting a line between hypnotising mastery and crippling drudgery. Most importantly, the gurgling vocals become slightly one-dimensional as the album proceeds, and do not consistently draw you into their emotional grip.
Galvano’s ‘Trail Of The Serpent’ is an album of slick and savvy sludge that sometimes gets stuck in a rut, where it writhes and slithers unpleasantly.