Eight Headed Serpent is Impaled Nazarene’s thirteenth album in a career that stretches over 30 years. Once again the group return to Osmose Productions, the same record label they’ve called home since their 1993 debut full-length, Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz...
13 is often seen as an unlucky number, but superstition seems silly for a band that sticks their middle fingers in the face of religion. 13 is the perfect number, as Eight Headed Serpent is a strong showing for the pioneers of Finnish black metal. Impaled Nazarene may have blazed the way for many bands to come, but they are a unique entity that is rarely emulated. Perverse and blasphemous themes distinctly reoccur through their discography. Additionally, their blend of second wave black metal, punk and thrash further distinguishes their black mark.
Goat themes are often revisited, and Eight Headed Serpent jumps off with “Goat of Mendes.” This track is a scorcher with some of the record’s more memorable riffs. Before the music kicks in, though, they present a sound bite of a man graphically describing having sex with a demon before his preacher tries exorcising the demon from his body. This part is hilariously perverse and disturbing. The group possibly are trying to convey the silliness of religion, because this clip is absolutely ridiculous!
“Foucault Pendulum” makes fun of flat-earthers. Satan and his minions are often invoked, as on previous recordings, in the form of songs such as the title track and “Triumphant Return of the Antichrist.” The band often cite their namesake, or at least the Nazarene part, which comes in the form of “Mutilate the Nazarene Whore.”
Musically, the group switch up black metal with punk and thrash. “Goat of Mendes,” Metastasizing and Changing Threat,” and “Unholy Necromancy” stick with a fiery black metal formula. The title track stirs up a witch’s cauldron of second wave black metal and thrash, while tracks such as “The Nonconformists” and “Octagon Order” have a fluid hardcore bounce (without breakdowns).
Fast bass lines stand out and are part of the band’s unique character. The majestic doom of album closer “Foucault Pendulum” comes as a surprise and further diversifies the album. Mika Luttinen, aka Slutti666, sometimes pushes his nasty, snarling voice to incredible highs or abysmal, bestial lows. Also, gang choruses seep into the album.
Impaled Nazarene’s 30-year development isn’t a linear one, but as shown in this review, there are common themes throughout their discography that are heard on Eight Headed Serpent. Their mix of punk, thrash, and black metal is a formula they’ve used for at least the last 20 years.
Eight Headed Serpent doesn’t forsake the sound fans have grown to love. This is the impossibility veteran bands face: album after album of the same thing can get boring, but bands who often change their established sound do so for something less appealing. Eight Headed Serpent thankfully stays with the same sound and Impaled Nazarene continue to do what they do best and offend while doing so.
(released May 28, 2021 on Osmose Productions)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Listen To Impaled Nazarene – “Goat Of Mendes”