Spawning from the ominous realm of death, doom and darkness the year 2021 sees the return of Marcus E. Norman (Naglfar and Bewitched). After seventeen long years of hiatus Ancient Wisdom is back with its fifth album ‘A Celebration in Honor of Death‘, thus making it among the most anticipated albums. The seven new tracks convey a dark and menacing atmosphere of Swedish melodic black metal which showcases the skills of the veteran musician. Formed in 1993 by the sole member Vargher, the early releases of Ancient Wisdom quickly distinguished themselves from the other Swedish black metal bands. From the 1996 debut album ‘For Snow Covered the Northland‘ the musician attained a melancholic and atmospheric vibe by incorporating melodies from the second wave of black metal. The ensuing albums ‘The Calling‘, ‘…and the Physical Shape of Light Bled‘ and ‘Cometh Doom, Cometh Death‘ were fully drenched in the cult apocalyptic themes of horror.
Vargher took his music into the dark territories of black metal. Despite the prolonged gap ‘A Celebration in honor of Death‘ once again descends to the spiritual realm of death. Those who have been following the band will behold various elements in the music. The menacing soundscapes on the album intro ‘Haec Est Mors Secunda‘ delves into proportions of orchestral arrangements. From the majestic choral work adding a dreary feeling, the symphonies provide an epic sensation. The following track ‘Breaking the Circle of Life‘ contains many dark passages which are mainly measured by the main guitar riff with bombastic melodies, and doom elements providing a fresh sense of transformation.
He exploits unorthodox compositions to create a dusky atmosphere of desperation. The subtle nuances of bands like Diabolical Masquerade can be perceived by the innovative composition. ‘Architect of Death – Laudamus Te‘ contains heavy orchestrations and piano interplay that give it a gothic tone. Evoking the style of the nineties Swedish black metal ‘A Celebration in honor of Death‘ builds on a dark atmosphere while the drums keep the pace heavy. The emphasis is mainly focused on the guitars and keyboards. In terms of songwriting, the music is enhanced by rich symphonic textures and mid-tempo paces, whereas the orchestral breadth provides a backdrop to the haunting guitar lines.
Each musical work of the composer is unique and has set its own direction. The complex symphonic arrangement of the track ‘The Coronation‘ is akin to a cinematic orchestra in which the guitars are exploited by the use of the power chord riffs to infuse heavy dynamics. Ancient Wisdom‘s approach to black metal music is diverse, although the band does not follow the conventional methods of using lavish tremolos. Vargher emphasizes the originality of his musical dimension by creating a melancholic mood. Through the plodding percussion and the thundering guitars the music takes the listener to awe-inspiring places. There are plenty of moments where the songs evoke a feeling of horror and this can be perceived when the music transitions from cold atmospherics to blackened doom metal.
‘A Celebration in honor of Death‘ brings a variety of riffing styles that can be distinguished in many tracks. For instance, ‘Those Who Do Not Exist‘ wafts with eloquent guitar melodies that contrasts well with the operatic tone. The lead guitar on this track lends an atmospheric and bleak dismal effect, switching from the cold icy pitches only to be hushed by the heavy doom vibe. Ancient Wisdom makes use of these epic elements as each song on the album contains dismal melodies where the music wanders through dark passages. The piano intro on ‘And God Saw‘ segues to heavy guitar reverb. The beautiful piano interplay and the lead guitars represent the trademark aesthetics of Marcus E. Norman. The final track ‘Towards Your Destruction‘ shows a full range of guitars that shift from power chords to tremolo-picked riffs. The swelling orchestration and the complex arrangement of the symphonies imbue dark themes.
Like the previous albums, Ancient Wisdom’s latest work draws dramatic conclusions and melodic influences. Despite the long absence from the scene, Vargher hasn’t forgotten his muse. This is recommended for those who like their black metal dark and atmospheric.
Release Date: June 4th, 2021
Label: Avantgarde Music
- Haec Est Mors Secunda
- Breaking the Circle of Life
- Architect of Death – Laudamus Te
- The Coronation
- Those Who Do Not Exist
- And God Saw
- Towards Your Destruction