I would best describe Ancient VVisdom as acoustic doom. Their mix of gently sung vocals, acoustic guitar with heavy backing rhythms, and subtle percussion results in a somber desert vibe similar to Alice in Chains’ acoustic EPs or the 2000s works of Earth. However, the group’s committed exploration of this style does make them a unique voice in the scene. Their Satanic lyrical approach is also rather distinct, as it’s less about hateful blasphemy and more about how Lucifer is just a really swell guy that wants to bring love to the world. It’s like a soundtrack from the bizarro world where gospel is the real Devil’s music and Papa Emeritus is the actual pope.
Now, three years after 2014’s Sacrificial, Ancient VVisdom has released their fourth full-length installment of occult campfire jams. Once the piano-based overture “Ascending Eternally” sets the stage, “Light of Lucifer” shows the band’s signature traits in place as the melodic vocal lines are delivered in a pleasant baritone and the acoustic strums are as bright as ever. The backing rhythms may be as prominently heavy as they were on Sacrificial, but they help to build momentum without taking the focus away from the vocals and guitar.
While having such a specific style does mean that Ancient VVisdom runs the risk of trapping itself in a corner, the songs on 33 manage to avoid pigeonholing. “In the Name of Satan” is definitely the most memorable track, with an earworm chorus that’ll be in your head for days, while “The Infernal One” and the title track also stand out for their especially uplifting deliveries. I also give the band props for displaying their influences, as the interlude “Summoning Eternal Light” has a feel reminiscent of Welcome to My Nightmare-era Alice Cooper, while “Rise Fallen Angel” struts with distorted aggression that brings to mind classic Danzig.
33 is an album where the enjoyment is based more on the style than the actual songwriting, but it never feels like a shallow novelty. While the album’s short length would be enough to keep it from feeling tired, it certainly helps that the actual songs are varied and enjoyable to listen to. Part of me hopes for a more introspective lyrical approach or more impactful hooks on future efforts, but I still recommend this to anyone seeking a different take on doom or folk music. I get the feeling there will be more groups like this becoming prominent in the near future; as long as they avoid sounding tacky, I’ll gladly welcome them with open arms.
“In the Name of Satan”
“The Infernal One”
“Rise Fallen Angel”
33 is now available via Magic Bullet Records .