Musically drawing comparisons to Man’s Gin, Woven Hand, and even Alice In Chains’ unplugged ventures, Ancient VVisdom’s acoustic-led endeavours have marked the band as quite the metal anomaly. Satanic lyrical subject matter and the recent backing of a respected metal label—Prosthetic Records—being the predominant ties the band has to the scene, but even though musically they have little in common with metal’s aggressive sonic traits, Ancient VVisdom’s acoustic odes have nonetheless been adopted by the metal community as their own.
The band’s 2011 debut, A Godlike Inferno, kindled plenty of interest, and the fact that Ancient VVisdom stuck out amongst the emerging psychedelic rocks bands who were also shouting for the Devil—Ghost, The Devil’s Blood, Blood Command, amongst others—gifted this group their own niche in many ways. The gusto of such standouts like “The Opposition” made it hard to avoid being swept away by the praise of it all regardless of where your (non)religious denomination lies. And even though the blunt Satanic glorification of the lyrics seemed trite at times, the contagious vocal hooks of VVisdom’s singer Nathan Opposition won out in the end; the result being a welcome comedown and change of pace from metal’s usual ruthlessness.
Campfire imagery has been constantly cast upon Ancient VVisdom when words have been thrown around about the music—an effective yet obvious totem, considering the band released a record with a certain cult-leader by the name of Charles Manson. Where A Godlike Inferno evoked images of being hunkered around a blazing bonfire, deep in contemplation and veneration, Ancient VVisdom’s second album and first for Prosthetic, Deathlike, is slightly more exultant—it evokes feelings of encircling the fire instead. It is, in parts, a much jauntier affair with Nathan Opposition’s vocals taking on a more confident footing; less inward than A Godlike Inferno.
“Rebirth” and the duality of “Far Beyond Good and Evil” are examples of the more upbeat fare; the instrumentation just chugging along insistently but never brashly with minimal drum beats and the odd splash of strings accompanying the vocals which form the focal point. Like A Godlike Inferno, it’s the vocal melodies which will suck you in, as the instrumentation just forms the strict basis of each song and nothing more—no flash and flair is found, nor is there any need for it. Opposition’s low clean-tones meld with his higher register melodies to the point that on “Let The End Begin” his vocals come across like a duet with himself; and a cataclysmic one at that. The reverb-baked drum beats that thunderclap and the distant electric guitar solo make for an interesting partnership on “Let The End Begin”, which adds some spice to the exposed arrangements. While the acoustic thrum of the instrumental “Life On Earth” is as bare as you can get, offering a short reprise before the enveloping “Deathlike”; a song which demonstrates the slight expansion in sound and increased confidence in delivery discovered in earthy pockets throughout this album.
Those who found comfort amongst the ashes of Ancient VVisdom’s past gloom will appreciate the band’s efforts on Deathlike. It’s a familiar tale but the band has widened song-writing parameters and began developing sonically; especially on the heavier additions (“Never Live Again”/ “Here Is The Grave”). These songs in particular leave the feeling there is a hunger to venture further into electric waters, and whether this is something that the band embrace in the future only time will tell. But for now Ancient VVisdom’s music contain no studio trickery or showboating, just passionate songs that connect with tongue and thought.