Friday 8 January 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Progression Of The Wolf

Dark Ambient Review: Progression Of The Wolf

Review by Casey Douglass

Progression Of The Wolf

When I was little, I used to be deathly afraid of wolves. I used to dream about them every night, werewolves and the more regular variety, and they always used to eat me. Now, I think they are amazing, and would love to be one of those brave people who care for a pack and can just walk in and tussle with them. The title of Dev-I-Ant’s dark ambient album Progression Of The Wolf got my attention for this very reason.

I don’t know which kind of wolf is progressing in this album. I suspect it’s one of the werewolf variety, for a couple of reasons. The first is that, you might think an album themed around wolves would be heavy on wolf-howls, but it isn’t. In fact, a lot of the sounds are a guttural, rasping snarl at most. The other reason that I suspect a transformation into a werewolf, is that many of the tracks feature a kind of “pounding on metal” sound, like someone kicking a sheet of corrugated metal, or slamming things around. That doesn’t really fit with a four-legged wolf’s activity, but it just might someone who is succumbing to the power of the Moon. I'll take my detective hat off for now. The butler did it though, have no doubt.

Another element of Progression Of The Wolf that I enjoyed, was the appearance of spoken words on many of the tracks. Lines such as: “Hell is home, the fire warms my bones, and the screams drown out my own” and “Flesh like canvas, blood as paint”. I thought these added an excellent extra focus to the rumbling, clanging soundscapes, and they also added a little extra flavour to the images that might be forming in the listener’s mind. A curious addition to the first track though, are sound-bites from The Predator film, the clicking mandibles, its attempts to copy human speech. I liked the track, and I love The Predator, but I’m not entirely sure how it sits with the other tracks. There are chain-like rattles and other sounds, so maybe the subject of the album is watching the film on TV before things go south?

The Path I No Longer Follow is probably my favourite track. It opens with a warbly, pulsing drone. It feels like a prolonged exhalation caught up in a rising wind. The muted sound of thunder cracks, bell chiming notes ring out, and the wind seems to blow with harder gusts. For me, this track brought to mind an exposed grassy hilltop, maybe overlooking the slate grey of the sea as storm-clouds come in. Later, there are the sounds of footsteps on leaves, someone literally walking a path. This led me to feel that someone was walking away from that hill, maybe into a nearby woodland, the kind where a fork looms in the path. One branch looks fair, and the other looks foul. I’d bet the walker takes the darker path.

The next track, Where Flesh and Soul Depart is also another favourite. This opens with the sound of a thunder storm too, and the chiming of a bell. The chiming lasts longer than it would take to signal the hour, making me think it’s a warning or alarm. A deep chant-like drone sits below everything, and then things fall silent. What is left is a rumbling, echoing soundscape, one pregnant with clanging metal, creaking, small knockings and other smaller sounds. The track pulses with malevolence and gives us a voice saying things like “The blade creates hurt” and the “Flesh like canvas, blood as paint” line mentioned above. Maybe the would-be wolf has holed up somewhere to wait out the storm.

The final track, Progression Of The Wolf, is the culmination of the wolf’s journey. It opens with a hollow, boiler-room drone and a lone wolf howling. There is a banging metal door rhythm and guttural, fleshy, eating sounds. It made me think that the change has happened, and that the new werewolf has found their way into the basement of a building, to get used to their new body in peace. There are more words in this track, words that tell of the wolf learning to survive and being set free. I really loved the howls and the wet sounds. Classic horror and power all rolled into one.

Progression Of The Wolf seems to be an album that describes an uncomfortable transformation, one that rubs up against the world and one in which the world is pushing back. It has the feeling of a furtive evolution, one that takes place in the shadows, with the howling wind and rumbling thunder battering the walls of sanity, as a being tries to fully realize their new nature. I can’t remember other dark ambient that felt this way for me, so it had a kind of novelty for me in this respect as well. Head over to the Bandcamp page below to check it out, if what I’ve said above sounds intriguing.

Visit the Progression Of The Wolf page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Progression Of The Wolf

Album Artist: Dev-I-Ant

Label: Kalpamantra

Released: 2 Jan 2021