Originally published in the Hindu Sunday Magazine on February 17th
Anicent VVisdom – Deathlike
Rs 120 (iTunes MP3)
If you like heavy metal, and if you like it especially for the themes it deals with – mortality, Satan and the end times – then Ancient VVisdom is for you. Sure, they don’t scream it out, or punctuate verses with shred-tastic guitar solos and double-bass drumming. But it’s just as brutal and heavy, thanks to this Texas “death acoustic rock” band, fronted by a man who goes by the name of Nathan Opposition. While their first album A Godlike Inferno dealt with Satan and hell, their sophomore effort Deathlike is gaining much mileage in the metal world thanks to a fresh, unconventional approach to heavy music.
With dense, reverb-laden guitars, acoustic guitars and drums, Ancient VVisdom trudge through their dark songs about – you guessed it – death. With a familiar throwback to ‘90s grunge bands like Alice In Chains in terms of vocals and sound, songs such as the depressing ‘Far Beyond Good and Evil’ are twisted to suit metal themes. A look at the track list could easily be confused for a typical metal album – with the first two tracks called ‘The Beginning’ and ‘Let The End Begin’. For Americans, these are camp fire songs combined with camp fire horror stories, but for everyone else, Ancient VVisdom’s unique brand of slow, scary music is best enjoyed with the lights turned off, on an especially dark and suggestively foreboding night. ‘Deathlike’, the title track, is a standout for perfecting the band’s formula. “I am the end/From the beginning/Or have you just begun to die?” asks Opposition in the most haunting and existential manner.
There are only 12 tracks on Deathlike, but they run the risk of tiring those who don’t want to listen to simple variations on the same theme. Even reading song titles – ‘Death Or Victory’, ‘Waiting To Die’, and ‘Never Live Again’ – might become a reason to predict the songs and skip them entirely. But it’s highly recommend to finish the album in its entirety, with a blues-influenced drone-jam ‘Last Man On Earth’ sounding surprisingly happy, probably reflecting what it feels like to be the “last to die”.
They do really celebrate death by the end of the album, on the especially-electric ‘Here Is The Grave’, by which time you’ve begun to love the idea of death as much as Ancient VVisdom. That’s mission accomplished for them.