Rote Mare
Serpents of the Church
Style: Doom Metal
Release date: 2 September 2011
Playing time: 76:12

All lights are snuffed out and the silver linings of life’s clouds are spat upon by a nightmarish darkness. Welcome to the world of Rote Mar, where the Doom of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus’ (“V” era) are platforms from which the band crafts something altogether more raw and sonically more oppressive. The band also cites Celtic Frost as an influence and in a way I can understand this as, like the Swiss legends, Rote Mar don’t seem excessively concerned with pre-conceived notions of the genre.

I don’t know the musicians in Rote Mar but it’s clear from “Serpents…..” that they’re not gate-crashing the Doom scene. No sir. From the guitar melodies, the riffs, the pervasive dark vibes…’s quite clear that this band breathes the air of Doom to survive. There are a few things, however, that I found hard to accept.

For a start, there’s something about the vocals that just doesn’t sound quite right. Maybe it’s the technique vocalist/guitarist Phil Howlett uses. Besides the main singing there’s also a range of other styles peppered around the album, such as some Death Metal growls - these generally succeed in accentuating the moods of doom and gloom.

One other off-putting aspect is the drawn-out length of the compositions. This would have been fine if the themes justified the 10 minutes + of most songs but I didn’t feel this was the case. With a bit of patience, however, one could stumble upon a few inspiring moments. The crescendo of ‘Serpents Of The Church’ is one of them. Another incredible moment is the haunting intro to ‘Funeral Song’. The (very) slow tempo in this song elicits feelings of helplessness as when you’re inescapably falling to your doom. The (slightly) up-tempo parts merely serve as counterpoints to the doomy music.

Possibly the most bizarre track, thematically speaking, is ‘Children Of The Sabbath’. The more perceptive minds amongst you will have immediately made the connection with Back Sabbath. In actual fact, it’s more than a mere connection. This song’s lyrics are made up entirely of song-titles and classic verses from Black Sabbath’s repertoire.

“Serpents…..” is bound to pull some strings within the Doom Metal fan’s psyche, even though it may not be a regular feature in the same fan’s playlist.


01. Serpents of the Church (11:15)
02. Crossroads (10:36)
03. Slow Decay (Sonic Mantra) (7:55)
04. Funeral Song (14:35)
05. The Martyr (12:35)
06. In Doom’s Name (The Chosen Ones) (7:33)
07. Children of the Sabbath (11:50)

Label: Altsphere Productions
Distribution: Twilight
Reviewed by: Chris Galea
Date: 26 August, 2011