Album Review: Wolvserpent’s Aporia Kala Ananta is for Concert Halls and Rock Clubs Alike
Fair warning: The first time I took in the new Wolvserpent record, I had just finished watching a documentary called Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, and it absolutely colored my listening experience. Dear Zachary (spoiler alert) wrings out a grisly story of the murders of a young man and the son he never met, and it successfully condemns the Newfoundland legal system and celebrates the fortitude of friendship and family in equal measure. As a father myself, I found the final third of the movie profoundly disturbing and spent a few minutes shaking my head and muttering “fuck you” at the screen. This comes on the heels of reading a book review for A Mother’s Reckoning, a recently published memoir by Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the Columbine shooters. Granted, an exploration of the psychochemical demons that ripen into gaping personal horrors would require a far longer article (and a much better informed author) than this one, but Wolvserpent capture the mood in forty minutes of withering, amorphous heaviness that plays as (un)comfortably in a concert hall as a rock club.
Aporia Kala Ananta drills toward that desiccated vein that pulses with doom’s primal, viscous vision: the inexorable bleakness of eking out a worthy life in an amoral world of meat and mineral and mock rationality. The music crawls in on echoey, deep-cavern bass drones that click with half-heard percussion and moan with melancholic bowed string tones. The tension cracks after the six-minute mark, when the strings spring into strident action and rhythmic punctuations take a turn propelling everything toward a frothing focal point. At 11:30, it all drops away so that Brittany McConnell’s violin can lead an enchanted march through a nocturnal, synth-trunked canyon, ending five minutes later in the jaws of some overdriven amp-addled abomination. Seriously – played at the proper volumes, everything in this section will rattle the teeth out of your head and your neighbors out of their beds. Slowly, the structure of doom distends into groaning, palpitating, cranium-constricting drone, swallowing all emotional conceits and compressing them into a singularity of dull, bitter loss. When the neurotic bowed strings finally saw through all the darkened thrum, there is no resolution, only exhaustion and hollow relief.
AKA cannot be appreciated on a whim. It is mood music for the psychologically tortured. It will both raise and sate those berating emotional beasts, the doubt and despair and self-damnation that gnaw on all our vulnerabilities. In AKA, Wolvserpent offer an arena for grappling with such pain, though they give no indication that they’ve foreseen a favorable outcome. It remains, however, a powerful document of commiseration.
(Note: I realize that, here at MetalSucks, we are not supposed to appreciate drone, probably as much for the bloated, overwrought reviews of its adherents as for the bloated, overwrought sense of self-importance in the recordings themselves. I have demonstrated pretty clearly that I cannot be trusted to be a team player or to write pithy drone pooh-poohery in the proud MetalSucks tradition. For this, I apologize.)