Ancient VVisdom: Rise Of An Ancient Evil (Prosthetic)
Texan outfit Ancient VVisdom have been plying their dark material for several years, with their 2011 debut A Godlike Inferno virtually all acoustic but having some of the most sinister undertones around. What struck me at the time was how demonic the band could sound, much of this due to the clarity of the vocal delivery of Nathan Opposition. The construction of their songs was complex and yet straightforward, acoustic riffs combining with the percussion and bass. Their latest release, Rise Of An Ancient Evil builds on the debut and their last release, Deathlike. With a heavier guitar sound chugging away throughout the album, the Sabbath influence oozes throughout. However, as well as the guitar work of Michael Jochum and Justin Mason, there are several other musical comparisons, most notably the melodic yet eerie delivery of Ghost. The title track opens the album before the distinctive acoustic guitar of Mason leads into Chaos Will Reign, Jochum’s electric riff kicking in. Blood Offering is possibly the outstanding track on the album, a colossal doom laden dirge, with Opposition’s melancholic tones underlying the heavy satanic themes that are the staple lyrical themes of the Ancient VVisdom stable.
As the album progresses, the darkness increases; The Devil's Work needs no explanation, grinding guitar work and homage to the dark one continuing, underlined with a healthy dollop of groove and melody. Ancient VVisdom’s lyrical focus is on one subject and they do it well. Blind Leading The Blind maintains the momentum, leading to the downright rifftastic doom-laden Worm Ridden Skull (great title), which really takes a massive scoop of Sabbath guitar and crunches on the back of your neck. And so it continues throughout, huge riffs, pounding bass lines and Old Nick as the subject matter. Opposition’s vocals fit ideally with the monster sound that the band generate, melancholic and angst ridden. By the time you arrive at the penultimate track, City Of Stone, you've kind of heard it all and are beginning to think that their approach is slightly formulaic but suddenly they change the tempo slightly, sludgy guitars with a couple of brief solos cutting through the mist. Album closer Higher Into The Black Flames opens acoustically before crashing riffs bring a decent album to a fitting close. Definitely worth a listen, VVisdom have built on their two opening albums to deliver another work worthy of an audience with the Devil himself. 8/10
Pain Of Salvation: Falling Home (InsideOut)
Well, if the Devil has all the best tunes, he may well wonder what the fuck to make of this album. I first saw Pain Of Salvation a few years ago supporting Opeth in Birmingham. Their progressive tinged indie and gothic fusion of rock was enjoyable to watch and listen to and I picked up a couple of their albums to follow up. However, I've not followed them with much intent although I realise that this is a band who stretch boundaries with each release. Falling Home is their first album since 2011’s Road Salt Part 2 and it’s a reworking of several of their songs in an acoustic setting, something that they have wanted to do for some time. Full of jazz, funk and reggae elements, Daniel Gildenlöw’s outfit ramble their way through some of their previous works. It certainly takes a few listens to get your head around. Opening track Stress has shades of Zappa, whilst the reworked Linoleum echoes the purple one, Prince with a deliciously weighted duet. The progressive side of the band reveals itself on To The Shoreline, with some deeply crafted harmonies, oscillating time changes and almost a country rock feel to parts of it (at one point I thought it was going to merge into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!).
And then comes the track that has divided opinion on social media; the lounge room cover of Dio’s Holy Diver, which I have to admit is so smooth I thought it was Richard Cheese on first hearing before it morphs into the reggae breakdown halfway through. This is a brave move, given the reverence that RJD has been held in since his death. I've listened to it several times and I can't quite make my mind up about whether I like it or not. It’s not offensive and it certainly is more original than the highly rated KSE version. Maybe this is one which really is reliant on each listener to make their own mind up! 1979 highlights the keyboard quality of Daniel Karlsson and is a slow burner that increases into a rather pleasant meander with some quality guitar playing from Gildenlöw and Ragnar Zolberg. Long serving bassist Gustaf Hielm and drummer Léo Margarit comprise the rest of POS and they kick into action on Chain Sling, one of the favourites amongst the die hards. One new track, Falling Down completes an eclectic package which has ignited some strong opinions. As someone who is not massively familiar with the back catalogue of Daniel Gildenlöw, it is a rather relaxing album with some very accomplished acoustic works. If you are a diehard POS fan, I'm sure you have a different take on it all together. I like it. 7/10
Cavalera Conspiracy: Pandemonium (Napalm)
Well, if you want to be hit by the biggest truck in the world, step out in front of this bad boy. Kicking off at 150mph with Bablyon Pandemonium, the Cavalera brothers appear intent on destroying all in their path. Max stated in his recent autobiography that he wanted to get back to the heaviest ways he knew and this is one hell of a statement of intent. Hammering drums from Iggor, wailing guitars and vocals that sound like oompa loompas on speed. Three and a half minutes after the opening salvo, it’s time to catch one last breath before it starts again with the hysterical Bonzai Kamikazee; I think this got past 150mph to be honest but my head was pinned against the wall at the time so I can’t be sure. A demonic bass line from Johny Chow leads into the mind stomping Scum. A swift change of intro to Apex Predator explodes into an all-out race to get to the end of the track. Not Losing The Edge provides a welcome return to the old-school Sepultura/Soulfly that Max has patented and destroyed with over the years. This one has a massive hook and the slightly slower pace for their first few minutes is a welcome change amidst the all-out charging. And basically, that’s how it is for the entire album. Massive sound, swirling guitars from Max and the ever faithful Marc Rizzo who adds some vicious fretwork, head crushing drumming from Iggor, frantic direction and time changes combined with the usual guttural snarling and straightforward chant your nuts off choruses from Max. It’s no-nonsense in your face thrashing metal. If you like it hard, fast and totally aggressive, have a punt on this. You won’t be disappointed. If they tour, people will lose limbs in this pits. If you have a hangover or a nervous disposition, stay the fuck away. This will damage you. Permanently. 8/10