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Ancient VVisdom - "Sacrificial" (CD)

Ancient VVisdom - "Sacrificial" CD cover image

"Sacrificial" track listing:

1. Rise of Ancient Evil
2. Chaos Will Reign
3. Blood Offering
4. Devils Work
5. Blind Leading The Blind
6. Worm Ridden Skull
7. I Am Your Sacrifice
8. City of Stone
9. We Are Damnation
10. Higher Into The Black Flames

Reviewed by on October 29, 2014

"...diamond-honed riffs that ring long enough to permeate their darkness into your pores but not too long that they become boring."

Ardent practitioners of ritualistic magic, the Jochum brothers of Ancient VVisdom are not afraid of exploring the hidden passageways of the occult. Front man Nathan Opposition’s name alone reflects the duality of nature - forces attracting and repelling. They praised the adversary, the personification of darkness, Lucifer in the song “The Opposition.” Not every song on the back catalogue is a concentration on dark forces, though. Backyard rituals and soothing campfire ballads result in woodsy, pagan hymns. While these ballads still represent a step into the unknown, positive vibes become as important as negative ones. “Sacrificial,” the band’s third full opus, never steps out the shadows, however. The duo here dwells completely on the darkness of humanity.

“Rise of an Ancient Evil” is an instrumental track that does not betray the title. Earthy acoustic guitar takes on a diabolic form once the distortion kicks with doom-ridden chords. Angelic (fallen) choirs are the masterful stroke of paint that brings rise to this evil entity. This track really sets the tone for ten tales of chaos, disorder, hellfire, and demons. “Blood Offering” and “I Am Your Sacrifice” invoke the essence of the album’s title. “We Are Damnation” is a fatalist realization that we’re all damned to hell’s ever-lasting flames, but there is power in that realization and like a phoenix we’ll all arise from the ashes of the flames. “The Devil’s Work,” a track the band had debuted live long before the release of the album, is akin to “The Opposition” mentioned above. It is an acceptance of chaos and disorder with the left-hand path being the only route to salvation.

Musically, “Sacrificial” follows a similar sonic route as the previous two recordings. It is a mix of acoustic and electric, folk and death rock. The electric side of the sound seems to be much more apparent this time around. Not only is death rock in full force, but this album is the group's most metallic. Sound engineer Travis Bonner from the Diamond Factory Studios in Austin, Texas (before the band moved from Austin back to Cleveland) has helped the group achieve its fullest sound. Michael’s guitars are the most memorable and heaviest of his career with the band. Songs such as “Blind Leading the Blind” and “Chaos Will Reign” feature diamond-honed riffs that ring long enough to permeate their darkness into your pores but not too long that they become boring. He changes his patterns at the precise time. “City of Stone” is a personal favorite with its Black Sabbath-like elegance. Like a variation on the riff to Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark,” “We Are Damnation” conjures the eternal spirit of classic heavy metal.

“Sacrificial” shows Ancient VVisdom reaching its darkest and heaviest territory. The segway between acoustic and electric instills a strong dynamic throughout the album. Even though every song conjures the spirit of darkness, the soothing passages, Opposition’s voice, and the band’s penchant for pop music structures will leave fans of more extreme styles struggling to enjoy this album. No screaming here. Those who truly get what Ancient VVisdom is going for will find a greater comprehension of the forces deep within, however.

Highs: Michael Jochum's guitars are the heaviest of his career.

Lows: The melody and pop music sensibilities will be lost onto more extreme listeners.

Bottom line: A fantastic effort that perfectly straddles the line between melody and heaviness.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)