Sisters Of… emerged out of nowhere in 2013 with their EP, Follow Me As A Ghost, a record that took the top spot on this very blog’s end of year EP list, and for good reason. The duo managed to stick out in a crowd because frankly, on paper there isn’t a whole lot that differentiates Sisters Of… from the sea of post metal bands out there but the five track EP brought us through so many sudden and dramatic peaks and valleys that it was hard not to be taken aback.
With The Serpent, the Angel and the Adversary, their first full-length, Sisters Of… knew that they couldn’t go back to the well a second time. What served them so well on the EP may not translate to the space and time that an album provides. That is not to say that the band has swerved off the road and changed their style entirely. Not at all. The album is still very much in the same vein as its predecessor but the devil is in the detail.
Follow Me As A Ghost was a largely instrumental and melodic affair, save for some clean vocals sporadically peppered on certain moments. The Serpent… is still a gorgeously melodic record but with much more grit and heaviness at the same time, made all too clear by the opening number, ‘The Serpent’, where shameless melodrama in chanted choir-like vocals give way to marching riffs that morph into sludge-ridden guitars and searing barked vocals. This is the one and only song on the album that features singing. For the remaining 40 minutes or so, guitars do the talking.
The Serpent, the Angel and the Adversary is focused much more on riffs, both heavy and memorable whereas the EP, while still highly memorable, seemed to build more lush atmospherics and silky layers before unfurling big riffs. On this occasion, it’s riffs as the driving force where Russian Circles intensity is constantly in motion and interweaving with the gorgeous guitarscapes like that of a band such as Pg.Lost. ‘The Angel’, the second song, is a prime example of the band striking that near-perfect balance between the two vibes.
The album appears to be split into two distinct parts too. The first half, made up of song titles derived from the album name, feels like one complete body of work while the three minute interlude ‘Germana Cele’ ushers in the album’s second half. ‘Annabelle’ strides into some moodier tones that are again very strong reminiscent of Russian Circles while ‘Annaliese’ returns to pastures familiar to Follow Me… with lush soundscapes and dazzling lead guitar work. ‘Leva in Mare’ then has the difficult task of bookending the album in a logical way but does so with a vibrant mix of the album’s dense riffing and hazy atmospherics.
Sisters Of… have really mastered the command of the riff on this album and while you can’t help but feel during some of the songs that additional vocals would have worked a treat, the album definitely stands up on its own.