Ancestors by Volur

Release date: June 2, 2017
Label: Prophecy Productions

First entry is a resonant, organic doom chant in the same vein as Italian ritualists Shabda. It’s a completely sink-in, spacious rippling pool of floating calm moans and tinkling trails and oaky surfaces and damp grass underfoot. Out of the uncurling lotus, however, a coiled serpent of a bassline emerges, summoned by a measured woody thwack beat. It’s an instantly absorbing bass riff, so its totally convincing that it, in turn, conjures swirling spirits and clouds of sonic excitement, all in measured upward rotation.

In some music like this, the unhurried building of sound worlds can be found lacking in melody and excitement… all that attention to ambient detail, but not enough reminders that it’s music rather than a lukewarm bath. But this album shows why some of the most exciting folky atmospherics come from out of metal, where a punchy sense of drama should be second nature. This opening track shows just how intensely compelling you can make a 15 minute spiral as it wanders from gentle sonic spirits to wrathful noise demons and back again, all the while propelled by the swaying snake riff appearing and dissolving while violin passages get ever more frenzied.

The second track ‘Breaker of Skulls’ kicks into gear with a great churning industrial doom feel to it, caterpillar-track percussion driving the chugging riff through snow, punctuated by a winding wobbly reset before bashing along again. After four minutes we’ve reached the winter forest clearing and for a moment its engines idling while we track some distant smoke and sunlight on icicles. After a brief respite, some dancing reed creatures point the way, with a path of sombre but somehow tiredly grandiose lead solo guitar melody opening up before us. A growling voice joining doesn’t detract from the epic/poignant mountain sunrise feel going on forever, ritual doom and classic rock not afraid to make their acquaintance known.

Frequently the trundle into dullness in some of this ritual doom folk or whatever is related to some high concept, where instead of an album it’s supposed to be a saga about the lost kings of Numenor, or a sonic representation of megalithic Carnac. Here too, there’s a theme, male energy or something, in contrast to their last album’s more feminine orientation (apparently). But again, luckily it’s worn lightly, and you don’t have to worry about all that if you can’t be bothered.

‘Breaker of Oaths’ then has an amazing blend of voices, both instrumental, human and inhumanly growled, with some melodic lines that just feel ancient amidst the distortion and riff power. Bass, violin and percussion all seem such distinctive personalities, yet telepathically interlocked at the same time, making the listen somehow both easy and rewarding. And finally, ‘Breaker of Famine’ has a slower, grander entrance, as if knowing that the stage has already been set in the amazing earlier portion of the record and a resounding finale awaits. If some bits are taken out and listened on their own, they’re surprisingly extreme, but it’s testament to the considered, balanced creation of the album as a whole that they meld so well into that great sense of musical progression.

An all around excellent, focused and adventurous addition to a small but so far extremely high-quality catalogue for this band.

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