Written by: EW on 21/10/2009 23:39:15

Strangely, even after numerous listens to HOD/Hod's (?) debut album "Serpent" I still can't decide if I like it despite ticking many of the boxes I lay out for albums such as this one. Whether that be for songwriting abilities, riff playing competencies or down-right nastiness Hod don't quite seem to drive out the consistency required across even a short album such as this to garner my coveted high ratings. Of course, a reviewers life is never that simple though. Hod come with a 10/10 for underground kudos, featuring current and ex-members of bands that have made a name for themselves deep in mysterious black and death metal underworlds such as Thornspawn and Necrovore and so will be guaranteed a positive reception from those who make my tastes look commercial. Added to the fact that the blurb echoes sentiments I often express myself, "in a world where metal has become too safe and guys run around the pit in girly shirts and eyeliner, Hod has set out to bring back the menace", it would be all too easy to credit what they're rallying against with an excellent review. But instead I'll express exactly what I feel.

What I hear is some pretty crushing, crusty, primitive black/death metal in the 80's vein of black/death when distinguishing most bands as one or the other was both pointless and impossible. The sound is not layered in studio tricks or gimmicks yet is surprisingly clear and audible, putting the band above contemporaries such as Nominon and Kaamos whose efforts for a 'grim' sound have resulted in dodgy and soundalike results respectively. "Serpent" blasts out 7 numbers in a timely 36 minutes and in doing so Hod utilise a greater awareness of speed and tone variations in making songs like "God Of Darkness And Winter" much more of a result than it might otherwise have been. The vocals, however, of Beer Reebs will not be to the liking of everyone - his froggy croak is befitting a musical style that is both uncompromising in attitude as much as sonic ferocity but I feel vocals either that bit deeper, or that bit cleaner, would have been more enjoyable to the ear without losing out on the all-important grim rating.

Major influences should be obvious to a band so devotedly worshipping at the altar of proper metal - if the Hod guys haven't written "Harbinger Of Death" with Morbid Angel or Deicide on the stereo and in the minds then I'll be submitting them to the International Court of Hero Plagiarism/Hero Worship but fuck it, "Altar Of Madness" came out a good 20 years ago, it's as ripe as ever for dishing out the inspiration. "Serpent Of The Nightmare Empire" closes out dealing in the fine arts of Florida's best on an album that has been a listening experience of what underground metal should really be like; but like all albums so retrospective in it's view, a challenger to golden oldies it is not. Despite outward appearances, Hod, like Desaster and modern Darkthrone, are not out for musical perfection but for the sheer hell of it; of not playing by today's rules but instead bashing out sounds that they have carried with for many a year. Hod, on that count get my seal of approval, and really, that's all that matters here.

Download: Victims, Harbinger Of Death
For The Fans Of: old Morbid Angel, Old, Desaster, Darkthrone
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 19.10.09
Ibex Moon Records

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