Tech Death Thursday: Serdce
We have sort of a good news/bad news situation here. Your normal TDT host, Jack Bauer, actually ended terrorism last week, which was pretty great. But then he got really bored, so he went undercover, established a new country entirely, manipulated the populace to adopt a corrupt ruling system, went even more undercover, started a new branch of terrorists to oppose that system and the rest of the world, and then silently stepped out and began the hunt anew. He’s got a lot on his hands, obviously, so your old pal Stockhausen is stepping in for the time being. Let’s point our faces at Serdce, guys.
I listened all week to the town crier, but he spoke no major news from the tech death realm. He kept jabbering on about some black metal supergroup though, and a
dank dark figure that looked vaguely Joe-shaped crept from the shadows and body slammed the junk out of him.
Usually on Tech Death Thursdays, your faces are ravaged, blasted, melted, weedled/deedled, or otherwise destroyed. Serdce, however, doesn’t seek to destroy. Instead, your face will probably be twisted into a really painful and bizarre shape, and I’m afraid it’s permanent. This Belarusian quartet boasts a seriously impressive arsenal of technical prowess, but we don’t often see the battle station fully armed and operational. Instead, Serdce weave long, convoluted tales of proggy madness, compelling along some sort of mad scientist’s vision and punctuated by flurries of technical madness. It would probably be more accurate to label them progressive death metal rather than technical death metal, but man when they go tech, they come out with guns blazing.
The band began their activity in the late 90s with two demos before releasing their debut full-length, Аритмия in 2003. Since I can definitely speak Russian know how to Google, I’ll let you know that that means “arrhythmia.” This album hints at the distinct craftsmanship we would eventually see, but it lacks the focus and maturity of later releases. The name makes the album difficult to track down, but the very next year they released the excellent Cyberly and defined the sound and style they would be known for. Constant counterpoint among the instruments, fusion-driven guitar leads, and highly colorful (and fretless!) bass lines swirl in a techy prog atmosphere. Low-end death metal vocals are eschewed here for a more aggressive, barking yell from vocalist/guitarist Nik Goroshko, who also displays a fine-tuned ability to sit back and let the music speak, rather than forcing vocal patterns where they don’t belong. Listen to “Revelation.” (Side note: this album is also hard to find, and I could only track down a full album video on YouTube. If it doesn’t automatically start there, skip to 16:00 for the track)
Serdce was fairly quiet for a few years, but returned in 2009 to blow Cyberly out of the water. With The Alchemy of Harmony, the quirky, fusion-esque factor was significantly upped, and an overall progression in tightness, technicality, and innovative approaches was clearly evident. We get healthy doses of infectious groove, intense shred, and fascinating textural development. It sounds like the members are really having fun (NO FUN, FUN SUCKS) exploring what sounds are possible with their instruments and how to make things interesting. Check out my favorite track on the album, “Dolls” (NO DOLLS, DOLLS SUCK). Warning: if you are a bass player, you’re going to feel horrible about yourself.
Another 5 years would pass before new Serdce saw the light of day, but when Timelessness arrived in 2014 via Blood Music, the chaps made it well worth the wait. In addition to continuing to make every bass player hate him/herself, Serdce’s compositional approach advanced with their already intense technical skill. The new album features a more nuanced use of space, melody, and timbre; tinges of Middle Eastern harmony and texture are spaced throughout, and clean vocals trade off nearly evenly with screams. Timelessness finds Serdce just as comfortable in a spacey keyboard section as they are in shredding instrumental runs or moments of heavy, punishing groove. Guys, I really tried to pick a favorite track, but there are so many fantastic sections of the album that you just need to listen to the whole thing. Blood Music, being the upstanding metal citizens that they are, has all of their music for a Name Your Price download. They also have suggestions for what to pay if you do decide to support, so please throw the appropriate amount of money their way. For an excellent example of the range of this album, check out “Samadhi” and “Unique Path” back to back.
We all dig some blistering technicality at the appropriate moments, and Serdce have tremendous knack for matching adventurousness with raw power. Check them out, give them a like on Facebook support Belarusian metal (which is obviously a thing), and the excellent label Blood Music.