My Relationship with Ancient VVisdom began rather unexpectedly at the Inferno Festival 2012, in the small John Dee room. I was happily having my head caved in by all sorts of extremity such as Svarttjern and One Tail, One Head, when the carnage relented for a band I had never heard of. I grabbed a pint and took up a spot near the bar, probably arms folded in a huff wanting more pummelling black metal, but from the outset this unknown band’s hypnotic dark occult rock had me completely mesmerised. I was transfixed by the powerful vocals and musicianship, that was in complete contrast to most of the bands on the bill that year. That band was of course Ancient VVisdom and since then, I have watched their career grow with interest and have been increasingly impressed with each release.
I was therefore really keen to hear the latest offering, ’33’. This may seem like an odd title for an album, but the reality is that this number is hugely significant. Not only is 33 the age at which Christ was said to have been crucified, but it is a master number with great significance numerologically. I could go on for hours about this, but I will leave those who are interested to do their own research and interpretation.
Anyway, enough preamble, what about the actual music? ’33’ is opened by a short grandiose and yet haunting piano piece, before morphing into ‘Light of Lucifer’ and ‘In the Name of Satan’ with Nathan’s rich vocals the obvious focal point. However, a careful listen reveals multiple layers to the music with clever use of electric and acoustic guitars and intriguing song structures adding to the ethereal, mystical nature of the music.
This continues through ‘True Will’ with a depth to the music that belies the initial superficial appearance. ‘The Infernal One’ hangs around a melody which almost sounds jolly, in contradiction to the serious occult nature of the lyrics, which gives way to a brief interlude (‘Summoning Eternal Light’), which utilises synth effects with an electric guitar riffs atop vocal harmonies before normal service is resumed with ‘Rise Fallen Angel’ and title track ’33’. ‘The Great Beast’ plods along at a sombre pace, complete with a guitar sound which is almost “country” in places. The sedentary pace continues on ‘Lux’ before the album is brought to a close with ‘Dispelling Darkness’, a two minute forlorn piano outro, which bookends the album well with opening instrumental ‘Ascending Eternally’.
At face value this album could easily be considered some sort of “easy listening” for a metal head, and it is certainly superficially very accessible, but scratch at the surface and it is a much more complex beast with lyrical themes such as mysteries of the occult, paganism and satanic philosophy all set to intricate and yet understated musicianship.
Occult rock is a popular (dare I say “trendy”?) genre at this point in time, but to my mind Ancient VVisdom sit at the top of the pile and are a gem waiting to be discovered by anyone bold enough to open their mind.
(8/10 Andy Pountney)