Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ancient VVisdom - Deathlike

Review by Justin C.


Up until recently, Prostehtic Records didn't offer much on their Bandcamp page. At best, you'd find one song per album for streaming and no purchase options, but they've started quietly uploading whole albums for streaming and purchase. Let's hope this is a continuing trend.

Among Prosthetic's new Bandcamp offerings is Ancient VVisdom's excellent album Deathlike. The band features clean vocals and a two-guitar attack, one acoustic and one electric, but don't confuse this with folk metal. Alice in Chains is a common reference point, and an influence the band themselves cite, but I think that comparison is a bit too easy. (Although if you like the two acoustic-electric EPs Alice in Chains did, Sap and Jar of Flies, I think you'll like Ancient VVisdom, too.) It's probably best to call the band "heavy" and leave the classification at that.

What's most impressive about this band is how they take their range of influences and produce a cohesive, distinctive sound. The guitars work perfectly together--this is not a case of an acoustic guitar added to a rock band to make it sound folky, or an electric guitar added to a folk band to make them sound harder. The two work in tandem, carving out their own spaces without either overshadowing the other. The drums are stripped down and often unusual--their first album featured a machete as a percussion instrument--and it gives an ancient feel that befits the band's name. At times, the percussion reminds me very much of early music: think Renaissance music from the 1500s. But don't worry, this isn't the kind of music the court jester would dance to. It's just another aspect that the band incorporates seamlessly into their sound.

Deathlike is loosely a concept album about humankind's obsession with death, but it's not all gloom and doom. In fact, I find it fairly uplifting. The title track gives a hint to this duality with the lyrics "Have you just begun to die? / Deathlike / ...or have you just begun to fight?" This album isn't about giving up, but I think it's about accepting the inevitable but still living. Not to mention that the vocal harmonies on this track still give me the chill, even after repeated listens (maybe even an obsessive number of listens...). Nathan Opposition's vocals are exactly what you want from clean vocals in heavy music--they're emotive without being overwrought, using dynamics and shading in all the right spots. I think the whole band has made a big leap between their previous effort (A Godlike Inferno, also available on Prostethetic's Bandcamp), but I really hear Nathan pushing out into his full vocal range on this one. This is going to be on my best-of list for 2013.


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