I needed an album like this in 2017. An album to take me away from things as they are, away from all the specifics of my own circumstances, and to a place I think many of us have a kind of subconscious nostalgia for, a place we might never have been to, a place which perhaps never existed at all. Olypmia, Washington black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room have always succeeded in this respect. With their debut album ‘Diadem of 12 Stars’, the band translated the cold style of Norwegian black metal into their own American cultural context, re-emerging as an expression of the band’s deep connection with the Pacific North West. The band don’t fundamentally change their approach on “Thrice Woven”, but it’s certainly a more aggressive and immediately gratifying approach to a familiar concept.
I hadn’t really heard of Nechochwen when I first listened to this album. I was aware of the sort of Native American themes they focus on but otherwise I was in the dark, having basically stumbled onto this album’s page on the Nordvis Records Bandcamp. But it seemed intriguing, and any album whose tags include “black metal”, “acoustic”, and “folk rock” definitely has my attention. But this album totally blew me away.
Though this blog is called Metal Void I think it would be disingenuous and limiting to focus solely on genres of music that might be described as metal. Neofolk is a style of music with a significant overlap with fans of metal, so I feel it’s not inappropriate to cover said genres on this blog. For me, a lot of metal is about a certain feeling, regardless of how a particular artists decides to express that feeling. It’s a feeling of a connection with nature, with the world around us, giving us a sense of place in the world and within our lineage and ancestors. Paleowolf is a solo project from Belgrade, Serbia that aims to channel this feeling.
‘Primordial’ is their first official release, an EP of four tracks totaling 34 minutes in length and featuring two brand new tracks. As I mentioned, Paleowolf are about channeling a certain kind of feeling; in particular they focus on a kind of sound that brings to mind prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies. In Paleowolf’s music, the sole musician ‘A.W.’ brings together influences from genres such as dark ambient, neofolk, tribal, and ritualistic music to create a compelling soundtrack to prehistoric times. Among his repertoire of instruments are natural instruments from drums to whistles, haunting chanted vocals, throat singing, and natural field-recordings, as well as minimal but tasteful use of electronic sounds, usually only as background effects. And ‘soundtrack’ really might be a better description than ‘album’ or ‘EP’ or even ‘song’; there is of course no traditional song-structure here: no choruses or even lyrics, verses or riffs. This music paints pictures and scenes, and tells stories, conveying its emotions and messages through the music itself.
This album really does achieve what it sets out to do. This is really a form of musical escapism, much like their contemporaries in Wardruna. Their music calls to mind ages past, and try to paint as vivid and natural a picture as they can. Its ritualistic, trance-like pace, repetition and droning passages draws you into and fully immerses the listener into Paleowolf’s prehistoric world. The sterling use of natural instruments is a large part of why Paleowolf succeed: where many of their contemporaries rely on garish artificial synthesisers which often serve to break immersion, the very instruments Paleowolf make use of enhance the sense of immersion. A hugely enjoyable and immersive experience, Paleowolf deserve your support.