Previously known as Pussygutt, the duo of blackened psychedelic dronemetallers from Boise, Idaho changed their name to the much more ominous sounding Wolvserpent in 2010. The name is the really the only thing that changed, as the occult hypno-doom and grim, folk-stained nightmares that populated their previous albums are all intact here. This double disc from Crucial Blast collects both the Gathering Strengths Lp (Olde English Spelling Bee) and Blood Seed Lp (20 Buck Spin), both of which were previously available only on limited edition vinyl. The material has been remastered for this format, and comes in an eight-panel digipack that features both the original album artwork as well as new imagery that further compliments Wolvserpent’s avant-garde witch-sludge.
Originally released under the name Pussygutt, Gathering Strengths offers more of their signature blackened dronescapes and ominous metallic ambience that we heard on the amazing albums She Hid Behind Her Veil and Sea Of Sand, with two massive tracks, each one a mysterious and abstract slab of twilight drift and formless low-end blackness. The beginning of “Gathering Strengths (Silence Within)” is a spacious blend of abstract doomdrift and eerie nocturnal field recordings, the chirping of crickets and other nighttime forest sounds surrounding the slow deep wheeze of a clarinet drifting through the woodland shadows, the tones of the clarinet stretching and winding into tendrils of dark drone, a subtle undercurrent of rumbling heaviness deep beneath all of this. As the track continues to unfold, clinking metal and the whir of prayer bowls and distant tolling bells drift in, along with what sounds like a detuned banjo, muted strings, blurred streaks of violin, the sound smoldering for quite awhile, a sort of cinematic chamber-doomdrift, looped and scraped strings becoming more intense, joined by a gorgeous violin melody that begins weeping over the dark diaphanous ambience. And then the calm is split apart as a billowing black fog of metallic heaviness rumbles across the landscape, crawling over the horizon, seething and roiling just behind the mournful violins and creaking, whirring drones. The second begins with black wavering buzz floats across the simple pound of hand drums and a slowly beaten tambourine that begins “Gathering Strengths (Spirit Walker)”, slowly joined by violins playing a simple keening melody, the mood bleak and sorrowful, with buzzing cello-drones slowly swarming beneath. The sound gradually builds into waves of rumbling doom riffage hovering over the horizon, never becoming overly heavy, instead spreading out and forming into a hazy doomfolk ritual with hypnotic violin melody and deep strings and soundtracky synths, becoming a dreamy funeral processional, dark and beautiful, austere and apocalyptic.
The band’s fourth album Blood Seed was released as a limited vinyl edition in 2010 on 20 Buck Spin. The first half is mostly made up of swirling nocturnal folk-drone, the second shifting into fractured, crushing heaviness. The first side is titled “Wolv” and starts off with the soft warm blur of a synthesizer drifting through a black expanse, very dark, dreamy, and cosmic, slowly joined by the sound of a violin playing a melancholy minor key melody that drifts over the soft swirling hum of the keys. Right from the beginning, the sound is dramatic and moving, and heavy with a feeling of loss and grief. This feeling is amplified as more layers of violin are gradually added, the strings sometimes falling away into pure drone. After a few minutes of this, the guitar finally appears, playing a slow creepy figure plucked in slow motion, and combined with the violin and keys creates something resembling atmospheric, funereal chamber music. Bits of slide guitar are draped over top, and it almost sounds like an extremely depressed and despondent Amber Asylum. About halfway through the side, the drums suddenly kick in and the guitar swells up in a rush of heavy distortion, and the duo lurches into this massive heaving sludge riff, all pounding slow mo drums and down tuned metallic crush, the grinding riff and pounding ultra heavy pace reminiscent of the Melvins, but with the violins and keys continuing to swirl around, transforming the heaviness into some kind of mysterious folk-doom ritual. Up to this point it’s been more or less instrumental, but now the howling unintelligible shrieks begin to appear, the sound of demonically possessed throats screaming in the midst of a monstrous doom jam taking place in the middle of the woods at midnight, a single riff grinding over and over, backed by a legion of classical violins, layered and intricate yet totally trance inducing. More effects start to appear, as well as strange echoing noises and droning guitar notes, the violins taking off on haunting counter-melodies, the sound becoming incredibly huge as the side approaches the end of the first side, until the drums fall away and the guitar dissipates into a cloud of dense feedback fug and it winds down into those witchy violins and clouds of amp buzz. The “Serpent” side picks up from there, with soft wisps of violin licking at the edges of a buzzing guitar leaning against an amplifier, gushing black feedback. Then we hear the distant howling of wolves, their cries actually forming into a sort of melody that merges with the other elements, the strings diffusing into a soft circling melody over that rumbling guitar hum. After a few minutes, all of this fades out once more and a creeping, muted guitar appears, playing a menacing Sabbathoid riff for a moment before the full band drops in again, grinding out another massive sludgy metallic dirge, wolf howls reappearing behind the pummeling slow mo metal. The chorus of strange nocturnal cries is joined by other yelps, moans, echoing shrieks, and chanting voices, evoking images of a midnight garage doom jam performed by a coven of witches, the sludgy riffing and heavy drumming speeding up into a pounding groove and slowing back down into pure tar-pit sloth, a serpentine gothic sludgefeast that stretches out to the very end of the album.