Exposé Online banner

Serpentyne — Myths and Muses
((Not on label) Serpentyne Music BL00LGT2SI6, 2015, CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2015-07-25

Myths and Muses Cover art

I really like this album and it may be my favorite 2015 release to date. Serpentyne is a breath of fresh air that leaves a smile on your face. Serpentyne is an energetic band that has combined medieval ballads of courtly love with rock and techno to extend what bands like Steeleye Span and Gryphon did in the 70s. Along the way they have also integrated elements from Hungary’s Vágtázó Halottkémek (Galloping Coroners) and Vágtázó Csodaszarvas (Galloping Wonder Stag). According to band leader Maggie-Beth Sand, she was particularly interested in writing and recording a set of songs about women warriors and other muses who have inspired men and women throughout history. There are a number of traditional songs and tunes with additional original lyrics and music. The opening song is “Boudicca,” an alternate spelling of Boadicea, the Celtic Queen who warred against the invading Romans. This song is medieval rock at its finest and a great way to open the album. The pounding beat, fifes, and tambourine give the music a martial atmosphere, but you also easily visualize maidens dancing in a circle with flowing ribbons. The next song, “Alexandria,” takes the listener to Egypt and Eastern melodies and arrangements that would not be out of place on any Loreena McKennitt release. The vocals are simply beautiful, the melody is catchy, and the lyrics just make you want to sing along. The third song, “Valkyries,” begins with a techno beat and vocal harmonies that evolve into Celtic rock of Northern Europe. A driving tribal beat takes over and the galloping horde rides over the hill. Song four is a Latin Christmas hymn from 1582, “Gaudete,” made famous by Steeleye Span on their Below the Salt album. Serpentyne transformed this song into more of a mantra, with drones, vocal harmonies, a capella lyrics, harmonic throat singing, and ending with high energy rock. Not at all what you would expect if you are familiar with Steeleye Span’s version! Next is “Hymn to Cynthia,” another energetic medieval inspired dance song with strings, flutes, fifes, and drum. Then we move to France for “Je Vivoire Liement” and then “Douce Dame Jolie,” two songs of courtly love seen through Serpentyne’s unique lens. Back in the late 70s with the rise of Renaissance Faires in the US, I came across an album by The Waverly Consort that included the 1377 dance hit “Douce Dame Jolie,” my favorite on the LP. Serpentyne’s addition of didgeridoo and rock music is a dramatic improvement! Track eight is the first instrumental on the album, “Freya’s Firedance.” The song title should key you in right away to expect another high energy swirling song. Next there is another cover of a Steeleye Span song from Below the Salt, “A Rosebud in June.” Serpentyne sings this song as a round for about the first three minutes and then they kick it into high gear with more Celtic rock. Song number ten is King Henry VIII’s top 100 hit “Pastyme with Good Company,” which was covered by Gryphon in 1973 on Gryphon and Jethro Tull as “King Henry’s Madrigal.” Serpentyne’s vision is a combination of a driving beat, electric guitar, and brass. All that I can say is wow! The album closes with another medieval rock tune “Les Garçons de Montagne,” with hurdy gurdy, drones, wordless female vocals, fifes, and drums. And if you haven’t gathered it by now, I strongly recommend this release!


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Serpentyne

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Garden Wall - The Seduction of Madness – One might ask how Garden Wall could possibly top their previous album, Path of Dreams from 1994. This writer was initially skeptical about that possibility, but after a few listens to this latest...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues