Serdce is a highly talented progressive metal quartet from the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Even though the band comes from one of the most isolated places in the Western world, these four men have been working together since 1997, and have released two demos as well as four professional full length efforts. The band’s musicianship is technically impressive and one can clearly hear that the quartet is especially influenced by North American bands such as Atheist, Cynic, and Dream Theater from the US, or Martyr and UneXpect from Canada. The band also recalls some original European progressive extreme metal outfits like Coroner from Switzerland, Pestilence from the Netherlands, and maybe even Le Grand Guignol from Luxembourg. In comparison to several other progressive extreme metal bands, Serdce clearly emphasizes original songwriting, including entirely progressive and technically challenging bits and pieces, mixed with diverse influences from multiple genres.
On the band’s most recent fourth studio effort, Timelessness, the quartet has crafted a profound, calm, and retrospective work reminding here and there of meditative Indian and Middle Eastern folklore as performed by Kartikeya or Orphaned Land, including the use of duduks and jew’s harps. In the same vein, Serdce convinces with laid back and psychedelic progressive rock sounds driven by appeasing guitar melodies and thick, almost numbing keyboard layers from the sixties and seventies in the key of Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Yes. The playful quartet also includes some challenging and sometimes rather hectic instrumental parts with clipped high guitar notes, fast and hysterical keyboard passages, and some vivid jazz fusion carried by saxophones that recall the likes of Dream Theater and Pestilence, among others. Sometimes, calmer passages can be contrasted by passionate extreme metal outbursts with beefy riffs, fast rhythm sections, and vocals that may suddenly turn from calm, melodic, and almost thin to loud and aggressive, or vice versa. While a few songs may have oddly surprising twists and turns, most tracks sound perfectly coherent, sophisticated, and well-structured. The balance between deep atmospheric breaks, insane instrumental masturbation, and liberating violence is nearly perfect, and should please all sorts of progressive metal fans. The whole record definitely never gets boring or pointless despite a a fitting running time of almost sixty-six minutes. To me, this clever mixture of genres sounds fresh and timeless at the same time.
It’s always difficult to name outstanding tracks on progressive metal records, but a song that perfectly represents all three sides of the band (laid back progressive rock passages, vivid and extensive instrumental parts, and furious extreme metal eruptions) is the well done epic “Last Faith”, the longest song here, which nearly reaches the ten-minute mark. If you like this track as an appetizer, you are going to adore the entire record, and hence the band’s entire oeuvre. If you care for Serdce’s calmer side of fragile progressive rock ambiance and smooth keyboard, piano, and saxophone sounds, lay down on your bed, close your eyes, put your headphones on, and discover the perfectly entitled “Loss Of Feelings Or Feelings Of Loss”. If you prefer the more technical and violent side of the band, you should try out the apocalyptically menacing and noisy “Quasar”, where the listener is treated like a punching bag for destructive atmosphere, negative energy, and unconventional songwriting. This track may be the most challenging on the record, but it’s also one of the most fascinating for me.
The band pretty much succeeds at everything it tries here. Timelessness is an outburst of creativity, diversity, and emotion. All main and guest musicians and singers have their shining moments and give their very best. The record has fluid transitions and feels coherent from beginning to the end despite entertainingly radical experiments. The production is surprisingly good – the label gave its best to promote this underground group, and even the cover artwork and booklet look great. The only little thing the band could still improve on is the development of a more unique sound. I hope and believe that one day, fans, experts and reviewers might not say that Serdce sounds like Dream Theater, Pestilence, or UneXpect, but that some other brand new contemporary band sounds like Serdce.Check out the album and spread the word of one of last year’s very best progressive metal albums!