Wolvserpent – Perigaea Antahkarana


Review by Jason Guest

Relapse Records

Drone/doom metal duo Wolvserpent have returned after three years to deliver unto us their sophomore album, the damn-near unpronounceable Perigaea Antahkarana. Their début established Wolvserpent as a drone doom band with a simultaneously abrasive and dark yet gentle atmospheric sound that made for an intriguing encounter. An album that required abandonment and immersion, it’s follow up is no different. With tracks so long, slow, and lumbering that they make the sluggish pace of Black Sabbath’s Iron Man appear more Olympian than ominous, their power to mesmerise, hypnotize, and seduce is nothing less than enthralling.

More a portal than an opening track, the atmospherics of ‘Threshold: Gateway’ depict a barren wasteland sparsely populated by the crackle of fire and the call of scavenging birds, its desolation an urgent cry of desperation. That cry is answered by the ‘Within the Light of Fire’, its determined and hypnotic dark groove and reverbed growls emanate from the mouth of some deep cavern. Gigantic doom riffs yawn their discordant agony and intertwine in tortured elation as they mount into a heaving frenzy, a light chime hanging over the debris left in their wake. The contrast between the two opening tracks is vast, the distance between the two a gaping hole from which the listener is beckoned with the birdsong of ‘In Mirrors of Water’.

Summoning tranquil melancholy from Brittany McConnell’s violin, the track’s pallor is reflected in its narcissistic shallows rolling beneath the gentle hue of its surface, the water’s depths intensifying as the track proceeds and we acquiesce to their life-consuming might. With ‘A Breath in the Shade of Time’, McConnell’s violin gently weeps its sorrow as torment emerges and develops to be finally crowned by a haunting vocal, the breath made flesh so to speak. And while all that has befallen thus far promises release, catharsis, cleansing perhaps, ‘Concealed Among The Roots And Soil’ drags us back to the depths of hell, of the underworld, of whatever it may be that lies trodden beneath our wearied steps.

With tensions and discordances giving extra weight to the its gravitas, it’s the album’s disparities, its incongruities, its shadowy depths and vivid expanses that are engulfing. Both tranquil and threatening, the sounds that emerge from McConnell’s drums and violin and from Blake Green’s guitars and vocals are monumental in stature and subtle in their simplicity. Taken as individual tracks or consumed as a whole, this album is an extraordinary experience.

Wolvserpent – Perigaea Antahkarana8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Threshold: Gateway
  2. Within The Light Of Fire
  3. In Mirrors Of Water
  4. A Breath In The Shade Of Time
  5. Concealed Among The Roots And Soil