Serpent Temptation


If you’re a fan of old-school Death/Thrash Metal, then you may have heard of OPPROBRIUM […]
January 9, 2024

If you’re a fan of old-school Death/Thrash Metal, then you may have heard of OPPROBRIUM from Metairie, Louisiana. For those of you who have not heard of them, OPPROBRIUM has a rather interesting background story (not that any Metal band’s background is boring, of course). OPPROBRIUM was founded by Brazilian brothers Francis and Moyses M. Howard, who emigrated to Louisiana to found their band. At first, they performed under the name INCUBUS and released three studio albums. However–while recording their third album–legal rights of the INCUBUS name were given to an Alternative Rock band of the same name, forcing the brothers to change it to OPPROBRIUM rather than enter a legal battle. Among the albums that had to be re-released under the new name were two albums that are both named “Serpent Temptation,” one released in 1988 and another released in 1996. The German label High Roller Records have opted to re-release these homonymous albums on October 13th, so allow me to give you my review on both versions of “Serpent Temptation.”’

Let’s start with the original 1988 version of “Serpent Temptation.” The first track “The Battle of Armageddon” opens with the sound of people screaming and running for their lives as a great battle ensues–a perfect way to start off the track given its title. Before we hear Death Metal-style vocals from Scott Latour, we get suffocating double bass from Moyses M. Howard, along with his brother’s amazing guitar riffs. Moyses also doesn’t fail to use a lot of blast beating to emphasize OPPROBRIUM’s Death Metal elements.

Voices from the Grave” is also more Death Metal-like in tune, but the band sounds a little more Thrash Metal on “Sadistic Sinner.” This third track opens up with skank beats–which Moyses uses throughout the entire song instead of blast beats–and the guitar solo from Francis M. Howard is so shredding, you’d think the guitarist of fellow thrashers SLAYER was performing it. "Incubus (Opprobrium)" starts off at a mid-tempo pace, but it's quickly followed with virtually non-stop blast beating, making Moyses seem like a superhuman. The title track, which is almost as long as the shortest track "Voices from the Grave," definitely stands out due to the lyrics telling the story of Adam and Eve's fall from grace and the Garden of Eden. You can't go wrong with a song like that, especially as a Death/Thrash Metal track. As for the songs I didn't mention, such as "Blaspheming Prophets" and the closing track "Underground Killers," there's very little to say about them simply because they're practically perfect.

Now we get to the second version of OPPROBRIUM's "Serpent Temptation" released in 1996. It's worth noting here that there are a couple of songs on the band's 1988 version of "Serpent Temptation" that were included in the 1996 version: "Hunger For Power" and the title track. Just like its 1988 counterpart, 1996's "Serpent Temptation" opens with a song titled "Battle of Armageddon" (notice the absence of the article "the"). Besides the slight difference in song titles, the 1996 version doesn't have the audio sample found at the beginning of the earlier version. Other than that, the track sounds exactly the same.

The next several tracks are new ones, however. "Unseen Bereavement" starts with mid-tempo instrumentation, before crescendoing into the familiar mixture of blast beats and incredibly fast guitar riffs, including an equally fast solo. The Howard brothers have the same duties as on their 1998 edition of "Serpent Temptation." This time though, Matt Lavenia is the bassist, and Francis M. Howard takes over as the vocalist. As for the next track "Indulgence," there were no blast beats. It took away some of the intensity found in the other songs, but "Indulgence" is still not a bad song in any way, shape, or form.

The blast beating from Moyses makes a resounding return on "Abductions," which I greatly appreciated. Unlike "Unseen Bereavement" and "Indulgence," which start off slow before culminating in a whirlpool of fast drumming and guitar picking, the fifth track "Prophets," immediately starts at 100 before taking it down to a mid-tempo pace for a while. Then, we get replicated but more refined versions of "Hunger for Power" and the title track before OPPROBRIUM closes their second edition of "Serpent Temptation" with a very intense "Curtains Closed." I see what you guys did there, OPPROBRIUM.

OPPROBRIUM showed a perfect example of old-school Deathrash Metal with both versions of "Serpent Temptation." The first version released in 1998 was full of intense blast beats, shredding guitar solos, and menacing vocals. I didn't know what to expect when I learned there was an alternate 1996 version of "Serpent Temptation," but I was not disappointed at all. Despite slight lineup changes and more refined production quality, the alternate version was a great combination of familiar songs and new songs. Francis M. Howard's vocals on the 1996 "Serpent Temptation" were just as–if not better–than Scott Latour's vocals on the original version. If you love some Deathrash Metal from back in the day, then listen to "Serpent Temptation" by OPPROBRIUM. And I do mean both versions, not just one of them.

10 / 10









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"Serpent Temptation" Track-listing:

1. The Battle of Armageddon
2. Voices from the Grave
3. Sadistic Sinner
4. Incubus (Opprobrium)
5. Blaspheming Prophets
6. Hunger for Power
7. Serpent Temptation
8. Underground Killers
1. Battle of Armageddon
2. Unseen Bereavement
3. Indulgence
4. Abductions
5. Prophets
6. Hunger for Power
7. Serpent Temptation
8. Curtains Closed

Opprobrium Lineup:

Francis M. Howard – Guitars, Vocals (1996)
Moyses M. Howard – Drums
Scott Latour – Bass, Vocals (1988)
Mark Lavenia – Bass (1996)

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