Meaning derived from a simple string of words cannot even come close to conveying the immersive, transcendental experience that comes with listening to the music of Wolvserpent. The Boise, Idaho duo’s 2012 demo, ‘Perigaea’—whose primeval nature will function as a seedling for a more developed and mature full-length—is the conceptual basis for the band’s forthcoming Relapse Records debut. The music of the ‘Perigaea’ demo, like most of Wolvserpent’s work, is wrought with equivocal dynamics that are often subject to the listener’s mood, where subsequent spins separated by space and time or context can elicit diametrically opposed emotions.
Composed of Brittany McConnell (drums, violin) and Blake Green (guitar, vocals, keyboards) the duo often crafts moments of sheer beauty—moments that are often violently assaulted with upheaval and unrest. Much of Wolvserpent’s music is embellished with a forlorn, achingly beautiful ambience courtesy of McConnell’s violin, though those moments often melt away to be replaced with passages of unmitigated terror. Few bands are able to proficiently attain this level of atmospheric wizardry, though Godspeed You! Black Emperor immediately comes to mind, a band that Wolvserpent shares much in common. Where Godspeed You! Black Emperor often soars with orchestral swells, Wolvserpent writhes and howls from a primitive blackened abyss.
The ‘Perigaea’ demo is a massive recording of five tracks spanning over 70 minutes. The opener, “Perigaea I”, is by far the briefest track falling just short of the four minute mark. It is dark wave of pure ambience that is underscored with the sound of a crackling fire and a murder of crows seemingly cawing from within a cavernous void. A violin tremolo introduces “Perigaea II” before Green’s cataclysmic riffing and guttural howls erupt and rend the earth asunder. “Perigaea II” is not unchanging, though for a majority of its duration the track remains in a sort of stasis—a state of perpetual climax that is wrought with malignant tension where only the closing moments offer any reprieve.
Words simply cannot do justice for Wolvserpent or their latest effort. The remaining three tracks continue to explore the dichotomy that exists between serenity and terror, harmony and discord, and beauty and the grotesque. While the 2012 incarnation of ‘Perigaea’ is tagged as a demo, the album easily stands up to the band’s earlier releases both production-wise and in terms of completeness. To think that this album is the mere suggestion of a greater, more developed vision verges on being incomprehensible. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the tunes have evolved and how the duo’s ideas have unfolded with the re-envisioning of ‘Perigaea’ which should be released in the near future. While Wolvserpent doesn’t necessarily sound like any of the following, fans of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Velvet Robe, or even the Melvins/Lustmord collaboration ‘Pigs of the Roman Empire’ should investigate further. Listen to the band’s catalogue via their Bandcamp page or download from their website. Essential listening…
Words: Steve Miller