Album Review: Wolvserpent – “Aporia:Kala:Anata”

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Drone is an ambitious path to tread. Couple those doom influences with the idea of forcing it all together into a single 40 minute track EP, and we’re taking paths very few should. In fact, upon learning what Wolvserpent were attempting to do with Aporia:Kala:Ananta, I almost immediately turned away from it. Surely nothing can come from such an idea. It must sound forced and uninteresting. Too ambitious to impact an audience in any way. Yet, here I sit, having pressed play on this single track several times now, each time being driven further into a mental abyss. And, somehow, becoming more addicted to it. Definitely one of the more complex pieces of music to be released in 2016, Wolvserpent deserve credit for everything they manage to do with seemingly so little. It’s a trip you’ll both love and hate simultaneously.

But it takes time for the full effect of Aporia:Kala:Ananta to set in. And I don’t just mean within a single listen. Of course the ‘song’ takes time to evolve over the 40 minutes. But I’m referring to repeated listens. You need to force yourself to isolate on the 40 droning minutes mentally. And then do it again. And again. But the patience pays off. This will undoubtedly challenge you as a listener. It will frustrate you and test your patience. But there’s a certain beauty in its misery… Once you’re willing to commit to it.

We open with several minutes of ambient droning to build the tension and set the stage. It conveys absence. It formulates a world void of emotions and thoughts. Instrumentals, if you want to call it that, are barely perceptible. It is a murmuring emptiness that for about six minutes strips us to nothing, creating a blank slate emotionally and spiritually. Except for the inevitable aforementioned impatience, as if testing our readiness. But then, finally, in what initially appears to be a glimmer of hope, the strings enter with carefully placed percussion. But it still feels dark. The building drama within the sound seems to evolve into the beginning soundtrack to our own funeral. As the music steadily builds in the same form, releasing tension, we feel as if we are falling away — losing control of whatever we were gripping. There is no hope, just despair. Somehow peaceful, however. By the time the hollow, bellowing vocals have entered, we have become completely immersed in the sound as the backing drones continue to pull us onward, downward. But then it stops.
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The remaining 20-something minutes feel like entrapment in the bottom of whatever abyss we were falling toward. A funeral doom mask layered over the same hauntingly unending droning is paralyzing in its discomfort. We almost want to return to the minutes that led to this. Or just reach the end altogether. The echoing shrieks, defined rhythms, and dark ambiance are enough to drive a mental state to madness, or at least depression. But it continues on, feeling endless. We have suddenly become fully consumed by what has gripped us and slowly surrounded us throughout the half hour of music to this point. Eventually, finally, it all fades to a piercing, painful close. But nothing really feels resolved. We’re just… abandoned as an audience.

Undeniably ambitious as a listen and equally as challenging to get through, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what Wolvserpent have created with Aporia:Kala:Ananta. It is clearly something that is meant to test us. There are moments that are incredibly drawn out, minutes go by without any semblance of… anything. But you eventually realize that’s the point. No part of this listen was an accident or done as filler. Every second has a role in the impact Wolvserpent are attempting to have on a listener. I encourage spending time with this EP with a high level of focus, with time you will discover that it something you will love to hate, but also hate to love. But either way it’s a journey.

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
– Corey


Aporia:Kala:Ananta will be out March 4th through Relapse Records. For more information on Wolvserpent, visit their official website.


 

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