Texan occultists Ancient VVisdom have returned with their third full-length album “Sacrificial”, the follow-up to last year’s well-received “Deathlike“, and, to put it frankly, it’s a corker. In the field of occult rock/metal there are many who try to evoke an atmosphere of mysticism and black magic but never really hit their mark, usually by either going too extreme (think about it – if Beelzebub were a living entity looking to recruit new minions he wouldn’t have the look of a drunken Goth on a hen night and screech incomprehensibly, would he?) or by flirting with the imagery and simply regurgitating the same old mix of Black Sabbath and Jefferson Airplane.
For “Sacrificial”, Ancient VVisdom have plugged their guitar back in and come up with some truly immense riffage to back up singer Nathan Oppostion‘s haunting, melodic vocals. After the instrumental intro of ‘Rise of an Ancient Evil’ sets a dark and doomy mood, ‘Chaos Will Reign’ strums into life with an acoustic burst before a cast-iron riff designed to flail about to whilst under a witch’s spell ushers in Opposition‘s multi-layered voice telling us that “Chaos will reign once again” in a tone that suggests folky singalong around a fire in Spahn Ranch circa 1969 rather than a black metal bark-fest. It’s not “the best” song on the album but it is possibly the most defining, setting out a template for the rest of the album to follow without repetition.
The simplicity with which the songs are structured plays in the band’s favour as tracks like ‘Blood Offering’ and the really quite beautiful ‘Devil’s Work’ (another Charles Manson reference – uncanny!) build on the model of ‘Chaos Will Reign’ by keeping the thick guitars as one-note as possible before the vocals change the pace, prompting a few bridging riffs to add a little dynamic to the song.
‘Worm Ridden Skull’ plays with the formula a little with its thrash metal intro that echoes Slayer when they’re not going full-throttle, and then settles into a mid-paced chugging groove that is pure doom metal, with only Nathan Opposition‘s silky-smooth voice giving any indication that this isn’t doom on the same wavelength as, say, Candlemass but something more ethereal. The Metallica-esque bass intro of ‘I Am Your Sacrifice’ gives way to a song with an eerie atmosphere that many a Christian-baiting, corpsepainted black metal teddy bear would sacrifice their granny for (if they haven’t already), giving Ancient VVisdom an air of authenticity that you can’t get by raiding your mum’s make-up back and shouting “SATAN” over and over.
The album finishes as strong as it starts, closing with the gorgeous harmonies and melodies of ‘We Are Damnation’ and the outro instrumental of ‘Higher into the Black Flames’, and it’s all over. Like I said previously, many bands try and create an unsettling occult atmosphere and with “Sacrificial” Ancient VVisdom have managed to do just that but by playing to their strengths of writing catchy choruses, memorable riffs and having lyrics that you can clearly make out. It’s an outstanding album and one that keeps on delivering, urging you to keep revisiting its glories to get mesmerised time and time again. More effective than a hex, and that’s no lie.