This excellent track by track commentary about the reissue of classic death/thrash gem “SERPENT TEMPTATION” posted in No Clean Singing. Discover the insights behind this monster and legendary release from the mastermind brothers, Moyses M. Howard and Francis M. Howard.
In the middle of 1982 two young brothers, Moyses M. Howard and Francis M. Howard — moved with their parents from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to New Orleans, Louisiana. It didn’t take long for them to be caught up in the energy of music — joining bands, playing shows… exploring. By 1986 their interests had turned to underground metal, and they formed a band named Incubus with Scott Latour as vocalist. They released a demo in 1987, and then a debut album in 1988 named Serpent Temptation.
A blistering onslaught of death/thrash, the album has been hailed as an underground classic, and it led to a deal with Nuclear Blast, who released the band’s next two albums —Beyond the Unknown(1990) and Discerning Forces (2000) — both of which were recorded by the Howard brothers as a two-piece band, with Francis as vocalist. By the time that third album was released, the band had changed their name to Opprobrium. Eight more years would pass before the band (now based in Tampa) released their fourth album (and most recent to date), Mandatory Evac.
Today, Relapse Records is re-releasing that 1988 classic, Serpent Temptation. It has been remastered for this release by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Obituary, etc.), and it includes four bonus tracks from the band’s 1987 demo, plus an extended booklet. What we’ve got for you on this release date is both a full stream of the remastered album and a track-by-track commentary by the Howard Brothers.
Below is a player so you can listen to the music as the brothers provide their thoughts about what you’re hearing.
Track By Track Commentary – Francis M. Howard (Vocals, Guitars, Composer, Arranger, Lyricist); Moyses M. Howard (Drums, Composer, Arranger, Lyricist )
The Battle Of Armageddon
Francis: For me this song is a great album intro, plus the great riffs that just make the whole album just flow from the beggining.
Moyses: “Battle” was a perfect song to open the album, the eerie sound effect of destruction and chaos right in the beginning plus the long intro kinda showed the listener what is to come. This is one of the songs that we started to have more emphasis in the song structure, writing longer songs, me and Francis were having so many ideas for the song, that whatever ideas for a part, etc., we put it in the song. Francis had many open spaces in the arrangements which gave him the opportunity to put 3 guitar solos in the song, which I think was awesome.
Voices From The Grave
Francis: This song is short but I really dig the heavy parts and how the vocals fit the song just perfect.
Moyses: In “Voices” Francis and I tried a combination of heavy and fast. I think all the riffs and the arrangements fit perfectly in this song, this song came out very naturally and it flowed relly well when we were putting it together. It kinda takes the listener by surprise, we start the song with this very powefull heavy part and then we shock the listener when we go to the blast beats and people don’t expect that. Then we let the listener breathe for a while and again end the song with pure brutal mayhem — this is a great song when played live, total chaos. I think Scott came out with fantastic lyrics for this song. This a song where the music and the lyrics were a perfect combination.
Francis: The riff on this song is just fun to listen to. It’s catchy.
Moyses: I like this song a lot, this is the only song in the album where we don’t use blast beats. Francis got some excellent catchy riffs in this song, and once again the arrangement and song structure worked perfect in this song, and everything flows really well. Very powefull, very brutal, great song to play live. This is a very brutal song lyrically. Everything worked great in “Sadistic Sinner”.
Francis: Originally it was meant to represent our band playing live, but since the band name changed to OPPROBRIUM, it represents OPPROBRIUM now.
Moyses: A song about when the band is playing live, it tells about the energy of the band on stage, the energy that we send to the audience, and the energy that the audience sends back to us. I love the intensity of this track, all the riffs in the song combined perfectly with each other, this song really flows. This is another fast one. I’m very happy how this song came out.
Francis: The riff is just total energy. What can I say.
Moyses: This was a very challenging song for me and Francis when we first started to write it. Francis had come out with so many great riffs that it kinda became one of the longest songs in the album, also a very technical one. “Blaspheming” showed us the potential to write epic, technical songs with lots of parts and transitions which we love to use in our music. Although it has lots of riffs in it, “Blaspheming Prophets” is a very powerfull and brutal song.
Hunger For Power
Francis: I like the lyrics for this song. Very true till this day.
Moyses: “Hunger For Power” has a very heavy verse. The song builds up to an ending blast beat with very eerie riffs. I find the combination in this song of heavy slow riff with ultra fast blast beats very interesting. It’s a very unpredicatble song. Another great song with many combinations of riffs and parts, it’s very diverse.
Francis: This song was inspired by what happened in Genesis in the Bible. Cool lyrics.
Moyses: We picked this song to be the title track of our debut album due to the great title. We felt it was very original and different, plus the cool lyrical content, and it’s one of the fastest songs on the album, It’s straight-forward, and it’s based on the book of Genesis. All the riffs and song structure flowed really well in this song.
Francis: I like this song, I think its a great song to end the album with. Just great. The lyrics reminds me of a Punisher movie LOL.
Moyses: Another great song on the album with lots of tempo changes, another one of my favorites, very brutal from beginning to end. The lyrics are very interesting — the title says what this song is about, the lyrics are like a mini-story or something. Very cool, it kinda surprises the reader. The song structure is very technical, it’s one of the most brutal songs on the album. “Underground Killers” was the perfect track to be the last song of the album.
On the Recording of Serpent Temptation (1988):
Francis: The recording processes back in those days used to be all live. It’s not like today, where it’s all done piece by piece in the studio. I rememeber that this album during the recording was just great, especially listening to the songs in an studio enviroment in a professional way for the first time.
Moyses: We were very well-rehearsed when we entered the studio to record Serpent Temptation, so the drum tracks came out excellent. I was very happy with my playing on the album. After I finished all my drum parts, Francis started to record the guitar tracks and solos, and Scott the bass. After all the music was recorded Scott begun to lay down the vocals. The basic tracks were recorded in Metairie (New Orleans), then we went to another studio in Los Angeles (North Hollywood) to mix the album.
On the Equipment Used for Serpent Temptation (1988):
Francis: For ST I used Carvins amps and Boss overdrive pedal, very simple setup, with a bit of reverb. I also used a Carvin pick-up in a Squire guitar from Fender, with an original Floyd Rose tremolo.
Moyses: Pearl Drums (double bass drums), Slingerland metal snare, Pearl cymbals, Evans hydraulic/Remo drum heads, DW 5000 Turbo drum pedals, Pro-Mark drumsticks.
All Hails mighty old beast INCUBUS.