By Craig Haze
Ancient VVisdom are an Austin, Texas based folk-metal band led by singer/songwriter Nathan Opposition. Ably supported by a burly cabal of acolytes, Opposition’s narratives are as satanic and esoteric as that of The Devil’s Blood, Ghost and other diabolic brethren, with odes exploring paganism, long-hidden and illicit knowledge, and of course paeans to Old Nick himself. A Godlike Inferno is the band’s full-length debut, and unlike the vast swath of occult rock acts that have arisen over the past few years (most of which have ’60s and ’70s psych and hard rock at their core) Ancient VVisdom leans towards the psych-folk end of the spectrum.
The band mixes the end-times pastoralist approach of “Lost Civilization” and “Forever Tonight” with washes of fuzzy guitar, stand-up bass and synth—invoking a sense of impish nefariousness within their glorification rituals (ie songs). There’s a scattering of panoramic Earth-like ringing tones that bring a bit of dustbowl folk to the heart of the otherwise searing “VVorld of Flesh”, and injecting brawnier passages to flesh out their tunes, like on “Necessary Evil”, adds mischievous gravitas.
Like Ghost (who the band have toured with) the key to Ancient VVisdom’s appeal is that their gothic hymnals are incredibly catchy. They’re deliciously wicked, and the shadowy folkloric undercurrent is, if you’ll excuse the pun, a hell of a lot of fun. The album’s two best tracks, “The Opposition” and “Devil Brain”, combine bluesy pop propulsion with a demoniacal lyrical bite—worming their way into your skull like Ghost’s “Con Clavi Con Dio” or The Devil’s Blood’s “She”. However, the pure folk of “Children of the Wasteland” shows the band can just as effectively bring doom to the fore with the minimalist approach.
A Godlike Inferno is a grand, cloven-footed romp. Having one foot in the metal camp, and one in the alt-folk and rock camp, gives the album wider crossover appeal—although potential listeners might struggle somewhat with Opposition’s satanic fervency. There is a sense of nostalgia to A Godlike Inferno as well. You could draw parallels with a Goth act such as The Mission UK (90’s Carved In Sand) or Alice in Chains’ (92’s Sap EP), and if you’re open minded enough to take your daily dose of iniquity via a less sonically intense method, Ancient VVidsom’s sense of theatricality will set you in good stead.
Ultimately, it’s the bands non-metal, lighter attributes that reinforce Opposition’s message, allowing for plenty of creepy clarity to sink in. The lack of bombastic elements might be off-putting for those who want their Satanism all wrapped up in a ferociously horrific package, but Ancient VVisdom’s portentous folk sounds resoundingly sinister. A Godlike Inferno contains plenty of hooky melodies and choruses, and is dripping with evil-intentions and chilling atmospheres. It might not have the stormy riffs and the thunderous percussion, but it’s got ominous vibes by the blood dripping bucketful.