Little is known about Serum Dreg, a two-piece, signed to Portland, Oregon’s Vrasubatlat label. Serum Dreg offer up a particularly nasty brand of black metal that is raw and dangerous. ‘Conjure of Plague’ takes care of the drums and some vocals, and ‘Ad Infinitum‘ provides the rest. Only guitars, bass and some occasional keyboards for atmospherics are utilised. The band serves a stripped down black metal aesthetic with a hardcore punk/death metal delivery.
Dungeons and Debauchery
At just 22 minutes long, Serum Dreg‘s debut album, Lustful Vengeance is an intense experience that has violated me since the first time I listened to it a few weeks back. But I keep going back for more. I can’t help it. The album has such an organic feel to it. It’s loose and raunchy, dark and dreary, and it’s jam packed full of attitude.
“Rotten Pillar/Lustful Vengeance” is the opening movement to this filth laden symphony. A lone snare drum begins, in military style at a medium pace. An old choir sample then enters, similar to the sounds used by Carcass at the beginning of “Reek of Putrefaction” from “Symphonies of Sickness”.
Then, the mucus-soaked, rusty chainsaw vocal laughs, sniggers, wretches and growls. The vocal has an incredibly sinister character to it and it’s impact is unsettling at best. The intro continues to build, the laughs grow deeper and more sustained. Then a screeching guitar feedback drowns the mix to interrupt.
The massive, fizzing guitar leads into the second part of this near 8 minute opener. The straight, ‘less is more’ approach makes for memorable, catchy riffs throughout. Serum Dreg’s riffs and grooves remind me of Hellhammer, Darkthrone and Satyricon. The riffs push and push while the rhythm section holds back. This creates an elastic feel whenever the band is at a more mid to slower tempo that brings a certain charm to the proceedings.
Residing in the diseased diocese
From the second track onwards the album has more immediacy and urgency. More hardcore and grindcore influence seep through into the ears, starting off with “Edifice of Hatred”. Vocals have clarity in spite of their venomous discharge. With this clarity brings the horrors of Serum Dreg‘s world into focus. The song takes the same sinister riff over different feels and tempos. It is a satisfying listen that is a good example of the essence that is, Serum Dreg.
Thematically speaking this is an album of debauchery, violence, hatred and subverting religious ideas for the greater evil. “Holy Disease” is next and it’s a topic worth covering. One of the cooler moments of musical history where a vocalist announcing the track title at the beginning too. It’s also an early point on the record that gives the listener a feeling of a continuous experience, like a live show. Feedback spills over into the following tracks that helps keep momentum very much on the up.
“Holy Disease” would probably be my personal pick of the bunch. It has a plodding, yet meaningful core section before a pummelling, transition of pace takes the song to hyper-speeds before crashing down. “Crushing the fucking trinity…” being one of the lyrical examples of the band, alluding to a perverse corruption of sanctity and decency. I won’t quote too many more lyrics as my parents may read this….. And the main riff is just so, so catchy.
The Dregs of Society
“FUCKING DEATH RITUAL” is spat out with venom to start off the fourth track of Lustful Vengeance, entitled “Death Ritual”. The shortest, fastest and most furious track on the album. I imagine the pit at a live show becoming a death ritual by driving any group of humans to an uncontrolled rage. A very hardcore inspired vocal delivery relentlessly barks out “Death, Death Ritual; Death, Death, Ritual” in a maniacal, Quorthon sounding style (specifically referencing early Bathory). Overall, very simplistic but effective and again, behind the fizz, fuzz and trashy sonic palate this album boasts, “Death Ritual” is yet another catchy burst of aggression.
Back in March this year, we gave a brief preview of this album and if you read it, you may have heard the next song. “Impure Ceremony” was the song and although any could have been used, this was a good choice to feature. This is an unforgiving and unrelenting aural attack on the senses. Drums pound beneath the fizzing guitars that present some memorable, hateful riffage.
Lustful Vengeance evokes so much dark and nasty imagery. It sounds like it was recorded in a dungeon by the dregs of society. It is fierce and punishing. Sonically raw, melodically dark, but full of hooks. Each track is all out WAR. Excluding the opener, the album is urgent throughout. The short and snappy barrage of tracks are full of twists and turns to leave your head spinning.
Blasphemy at its best
And now for the close. The manifesto or mission statement. The band’s raison d’être. “Blasphemic Black Death Noise” is the final song and also quite the apt description. The bass guitar really shines through the mix on this song, it reminds me of the first Autopsy album, where Steve Di Giorgio’s wooden, elastic band style bass sound dominates.
The song begins with a trudging groove, guitars ring out and the drums hold the tempo back, creating a truly head-nodding introduction. This feeling does not last long before the drums transform the song with a furious blast beat to ramp the energy up and sustain it until the end.
The final song continues to repeat the refrain of “Blasphemic. Black. Hateful. Death Noise” as it hypnotises you into a hate trance. It’s almost as if this phrase encapsulates the whole ethos of the band and its aims. This truly is a recording that is lean, mean and most certainly, unclean. This album is the 8th deadly sin. So tread carefully and if you see the band, cross the street.