Wolvennest - Temple review
|Release date:||March 2021|
02. Swear To Fire
05. All That Black
06. Succubus [feat. King Dude]
08. Souffle De Mort
Wolvennest's Void was a fairly colossal undertaking; their next album, Temple, is no different.
Void was monstrous, both in its length (70 minutes) and in just how engrossing its atmosphere was. The combination of atmospheric black metal, krautrock, drone, dark ambient, gothic and other styles within a repetitive, motif-oriented framework worked wonders, with songs slowly, gradually developing whilst keeping listeners ensnared within the hypnotic, and at times ritualistic, foundations of each track. It was a lot to take in, but it rewarded those with the patience and mindset to approach it in spades. 2019's Vortex EP served as a bite-sized display of some of these elements, with others, such as the gothic component on Void, set aside to avoid their sound being spread too thin to fit it all into the shortened runtime. If anyone was worried that anything lost during this transition might remain a thing of the past should fear not, as Temple is a whole 10 minutes longer than Void, and those gothic and ritualistic aspects found on its predecessor are here in abundance.
The core sound of each track on Void was pretty similar: a lengthy quiet introduction followed by a mid-tempo blackened riff that would serve as a base for the rest of the song, with subsequent layering as tracks progressed. The ambient introduction to "Mantra" suggests that things will remain the case, and the subsequent plodding riff further supports that theory. Once the riff kicks in, it sustains for almost all of the many remaining minutes of this song, the drums monotonously stomping along as overlaid guitar tremolos, warbling electronics and ritualistic vocal back-and-forths build the track further. The trade-offs of the bleak group chants and Sharon Shazzula's preacher-esque retorts really lean into the ceremonial vibe that "Mantra" has, giving the procession towards the song's conclusion a really hefty atmosphere. A real scene-setter of an opening, "Mantra" makes it clear from the outset that Temple is an album that rewards perseverance and commitment to the process.
Although "Mantra" follows a similar general blueprint to most of the tracks that follow, in doing so making it clear early on whether this album will appeal or not, it does stand out in just how intense the ritualistic vibe is on it; "Swear To Fire" feels less like an observance and more like an actual song, with the exchanges between Shazzula's verses and the guitar leads. It's also a song where the atmosphere feels less inspired by religious (or perhaps anti-religious may be more apt) ceremony, and more by horror movies and gothic music. It would be unfair to describe it as 'cheesy', but this song takes my mind more in a direction of graveyards, witches and full moons, rather than candles and hooded robes.
These two tones, the gothic and the ritualistic, are present in varying degrees across the rest of the album. The latter comes through on the likes of "Alecto" and "Incarnation", and especially so on the eerie closer "Souffle De Mort", a track that eschews many of the features that make up their other song in favor of menacing, loosely structured guitar and echoing, processional percussion, above which Shazzula leads a sinister sermon. It's a really interesting extension of the ideas found in tracks such as "Mantra" that arguably takes the group closer to dark ambient territory than they've gone on any of their other songs before now. At the other end of the spectrum, "Succubus" and "Disappear" go into full-on gothic territory thanks to the guest vocals from TJ Cowgill (also known as King Dude) and Olmo Lipani (Déhà, who has previously worked with Wolvennest as both a producer and musician), respectively. It's interesting to have these two songs that stand out so much placed back-to-back on the tracklist, but it actually works quite nicely; the gothic vibes on "Succubus" come primarily from the vocals, whilst the instrumentation on "Disappear" is the closest that the band gets to classic gothic rock territory, so the former effectively sets the tone for the latter.
I've criticized several albums within the past 12 months for running on too long, including Harakiri For The Sky within the last 2 weeks; however, whilst Temple does feel its length, it's not necessarily a burden in the same way. Atmospheric, repetitive, ambience-oriented music is far more suitable for exploration over such extensive runtimes, as the length allows listeners to get lost within the trance conjured by the music and the subtleties found within, whilst more song-oriented, direct music just becomes overwhelming. Additionally, the extended length allows Wolvennest to explore the different sides of their sound without rushing.
Nevertheless, the music needs to deliver quality; if the atmosphere is unconvincing, the illusion will fall apart over the duration of the record. Thankfully, whilst there are times when Temple sags, for the most part it manages to sustain the allure thanks to quality songwriting, particularly on tracks such as "Incarnation", a really melancholic, haunting piece and arguably the pick of the bunch here. I'm not sure whether Temple is necessarily an improvement on Void, but it's a logical continuation of and progression from that record, and anyone on board the Wolvennest hype train after Void came out should be more than satisfied by what the group deliver here.
||Written on 02.03.2021 by|
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