Heavy metal is presented in countless flavor combinations, and the push-and-pull among separate stylistic strands can grow heated as adherents of specific subgenres jockey for the purest positions. Will the real deal please stand up? Is it doom? Is it sludge? Or is it stoner? Seven Serpents will take ’em all. Indeed, the South Florida trio wears its sludgy, stoner, doom-drenched badge with honor, describing those three categorizations as signposts for anyone new to the band.
“We always try to experiment within our songs,” says guitarist and vocalist Michael Darling, “but that definitely nails the bulk of what we play.”
Darling and bassist/vocalist Samuel Ogonuwe formed Seven Serpents out of the ashes of various other West Palm Beach-area metal and hardcore bands. When their original drummer moved to California in 2015, they started jamming with Colin Casey—and the new lineup instantly clicked.
“No matter what the subject matter, we try to convey a lot of emotion and ambience through our material,” Darling says. “We just play what sounds good to us, and we want you as invested in listening to our music as we are playing it.”
Seven Serpents sought out the dark corners of doom metal on a self-titled 2015 debut demo, which Darling wrote and recorded himself. But in 2018, the band implemented a collective writing model for the Garden of Eyes EP. After listening to “nothing but Black Sabbath” for a spell, Darling, Ogonuwe and Casey entered the studio with producer Mike Strivelli.
“We feel we found our sound through that release,” Darling says. “Recording with Mike made for a very smooth process that had a lot of impact on the finished product. And our audience seems to enjoy it, even if it’s completely different from the last batch
And they plan to continue evolving. A newly recorded single, “Flowerhead,” is set for release later this spring. On it, Seven Serpents take another left turn, this time into psychedelic territory. The sludgy grooves and bone-crushing heft of the band’s music remains, however, which jibes perfectly with fellow South Florida purveyors of doom Iron Buddha.
“We became close to Iron Buddha right after Seven Serpents formed,” says Darling, “and we’ve helped each other grow while the scene down here has unfortunately dwindled. When they started playing, they were a two-piece outfit and always sounded more massive than any band on the bill. They also have these long, instrumental psychedelic jazz parts that caught my eye and show off what great musicians they all are.”
The two bands set out this week on a short tour of the Southeast. It’s the first time Seven Serpents have had the chance to slither outside their home state. Michael Darling is ready for anything.
“We’ve done some small tours around Florida but this will be our first run breaking state lines into Georgia,” he explains. “Our crowds are usually very mixed wherever we go. From mosh pits opening up, to wedding parties slow dancing to our set—if our crowds are anything, they’re diverse.”
Their maiden concert is held in St. Augustine. The prospect of it has Darling and company excited: “I think the shared goals for both bands on this run are branching out of Florida and playing some new cities. I’m hoping to see some weird bands on these shows as well.”