1999-2000, Self-Release, Promo
Why Serberus with an 'S', I am wondering, instead of a 'C'? Is there another Cerberus? Actually there are probably more than one - the name seems unusually fit for a death or black metal band, just one of countless mythological buzzwords relating archaism with darkness, much like the name of this magazine. Maybe this band spelled it with an 'S' just to be different, ala Kreator, or to let people in on the proper pronunciation so that they weren't constantly regaled with calls of 'kerb-er-us'. In any case, it doesn't really matter. Cerberus, you will doubtlessly remember, is the watcher or 'guard dog' of the underworld in Greek mythology, Pluto's favorite pet, a combination of the worst doberman you've ever experienced and all the nightmares of fire-breathing demons you wish you had never tossed and turned through. Three heads, eyes of flame, and the worst breath in Hell. What does that have to do with the sound of this band, or the subject matter of their lyrics? I am not sure...they do have songs named 'Ancient Throne' and 'Gates of Fire', though, so at least there are some references here to Tartarus.
Have I mentioned before how much I love Colorado, the birthplace of this band? Don't be surprised if, in the future, I am writing these reviews from that state instead of dreary sand-scarred Texas...every trip I have ever taken to the Rocky Mountains has been a source of great memories, including the time I almost died there, lost in the woods...
So, looking at the cover of this CD (a snow-drenched twilight clearing with dead trees), the band pictures on the back of it (four men standing in the shadows, holding burning torches or (I am guessing) swords, my first thought was, of course, 'black metal - an American black metal band I haven't heard, how nice' - but I disappointed, at first, in my expectations. Serberus has very, very little to do with black metal other than the imagery used on this promo or some of the tints and tones in their music. For the most part this is standard Scandinavian style melodic death metal, giving a few nods here and there to Carcass (especially in the vocals) - or Bolt Thrower, primarily in the last song 'Gates of Fire'. Also, (this is just what I hear) there seems to be quite a bit of early Slayer in here...so, a confusing mix of styles, although the result isn't at all 'confused' itself, and this band seems to know exactly what they are doing. The fact that they are playing in a style that is completely out-of-sorts with the current trends in the scene, and the additional factor that they have so many odd references in their music are, to me, only bonuses - I wholeheartedly support being out of step with the 'world', and if they are not (at this point in their career) rigorously original, at least they aren't trying to copy the latest wave of whatever the scene has decided will be supported this week. I am guessing that this band's isolation (Colorado has never, as far as I know, been a hotbed of mile-high melodic death metal) contributes, in a sense, to their determination to follow their own path.
Anyway, this promo CD is a little dated at this point and the band has informed me that they are going to soon release a full-length, so keep your ear to the ground for that. In the meanwhile, I would like to hear what this band comes up with next, as this is a good step towards something positive - even though it is such mainly because of what is refrains from (bombast, corpse paint, weak blast beats) instead of what it actively propogates, but this band is just getting started and I'm sure they will have some more spectacular material soon. This CD hits all the right spots - it has some very nice melodies and good guitar interaction, the drumming is solid, the vocals are adequate (if a bit strained at times), and the music has obviously been worked on at length, so I can't complain. The production is workman-like and a bit thin, but it fits the material. This kind of music isn't exactly my cup of tea, so if I seem a little restrained in my praise here it is for that reason...not because this is a 'bad' band. On the contrary, this is some of the best melodic death metal I've ever received here...I wish Serberus luck in the future.