The Venus Bellona

Proscriptor - The Venus Bellona ©1997 Cruel Moon Int.
1. An Initium For You
2. I Am The One
3. Our Blood And Veins From The McGovern Regiment
4. Hi Ri Ri Tha E Tichinn
5. Lady Day Eve
6. Madeleine
7. Kiss Of Shame
8. Tractatus
9. My Legacy: A Crysknife
10. Serpentine Of Six-fold Stars
11. The Barren Stones Of Lughnasadh
12. Far Away From Balkan Hills
13. De La Fletus Des Athroll (After The Massacre Of Glencoe Part II)
14. Chomere!
15. Commanding The Dragon Of Keppoch
16. Ground's Afire
17. Defeat
18. We Raise Our Silver Goblets In Triumph
19. We Procured The Non-existence Of Xalteun
20. Fiem Habere: Flames For You/I Ran (so Far Away)

Aside from the rather overly ambitious and needlessly haughty liner notes as well as the entirely overbearing nature of the subject, Absu's Proscriptor McGovern has fully impressed me with this strange, quirky side project. McGovern digs deep into his Scottish heritage (think Groundskeeper Willie on crack) to create soundscapes about destroying a village in eleven minutes as well as being "the one" throughout. Just a glance at the elegant fold-out digipack (one of the best packages I've seen in ages) lyrics tells me that I probably would just chuckle at his writings. No worries though. I just let the music do the talking. Mixing dark ambience, echoing spoken voices, traditional Scottish/Celtic influences and sparse drums as well as acoustic guitar, Proscriptor is quite capitivating throughout, using a handful of left field tricks. My favorite tracks are the acoustic balladry of "Hi Ri Ri Ri Tha E Tichinn"or "After the Massacre at Glencoe", though many of the other tracks contain some haunting and resonating parts. The final track is a black metal whispered vocals over rather rock'n'roll styling and it succeeds quite nicely. If it weren't for the utter vapid nature and overblown dramatics, I'd probably place this a bit higher on my list of atmospheric listens but as it stands, Proscriptor is taking himself a bit too seriously for his own good.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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The Serpentine Has Risen

Proscriptor - The Serpentine Has Risen ©2002 Dragon Flight Recordings
1. Tin Formulae
2. Dauntless Pride
3. Witch Wife
4. Castle Walls
5. First Point
6. Devil Woman
7. Ossian's Cave [including Impressions I, II, & III]
8. Tin Formulae [reprise]

When Absu's Proscriptor McGovern is not busy with his main band or trying out for thrash legends, he devotes time to a peculiar side project with the title Proscriptor. His first solo release, The Venus Bellona, was an intriguing concept performance that ultimately got on my nerves for some of his unusually goofy indulgences. Thankfully, his second solo release, this here The Serpentine Has Risen, is a little less gaudy and there are no references to how he destroyed a village in eleven minutes. That is about the only thing that stuck with me from his first solo album and that's not really a compliment.

The Serpentine Has Risen is a complete detour from any sort of thrash metal, black metal or any sort of metal that one can find in Absu. Rather, Proscriptor gets to work on atmospheric compositions that rely heavily on acoustic guitar, Hawkwind-esque sound effects and an unsettling mood. At least, he's attemping an unsettling mood. This album works when he's a little more musical and less indulgent on making a clashing sound effects racket. More tellingly, his absolutely startling cover of "Devil Woman" (which was done with more flair by The Accused a long, long time ago) is the most fetching thing on the entire disc. But it's done with such careful attention to a 70s rock vibe that it is sure to wrench open those squinty, shifty black metal eyes of yours.

On a whole, The Serpentine Has Risen seems considerably more palatable than Proscriptor's solo debut. Despite moments where the music disassembles into chaotic clanking and clanging, the CD is adequately moody and explores Proscriptor's softer, gentler side. I'm sure those in Ireland and Scotland will continue to smirk knowingly at the Texan boy, but it's truly not a bad album. Besides, the cover of "Devil Woman" simply must be heard.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/2003

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