Wednesday 3 March 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Genesis

Dark Ambient Review: Genesis

Review By Casey Douglass


I must say, Paleowolf’s brand of primal dark ambient music is a wonderful antidote to the frippery that tends to dominate social media. I don’t often get stuck in the infinite scroll, but when I do, I feel like I’ve been straining sewage through my teeth. There’s just something so spell-breaking about hearing ritual drums, chants and the rough edge of nature. Genesis is one of Paleowolf’s earlier releases, released by Cryo Chamber back in 2016, and I thought that now would be a good time for me to belatedly take a listen.

The Genesis album description does a fine job of framing the soundscapes contained on the album. It makes mention of archaic drums, riparian forests and painted skulls. This peels back the shroud and gives a taste of how brutal and yet simple, life was back then. When you listen to the album proper, you are treated to thunderous drum beats, eerie undertone chanting, and a feral, powerful landscape that can be heard in its howling winds and lapping waters.

For me, it was the last three tracks that stood out as my favourites. The fifth track, Eastern Tribes, is the first of these. It opens with an echoing drumbeat and a trundling droning chant. It had a martial feel to me, like forces grouping for a looming battle. There are distant high tones and what sounds like deep horn notes. A faster companion beat begins to play around the initial drumbeat, and things really begin to feel a bit ghostly. Maybe the spirits of the previous dead are with the armies, fighting their own battle high in the sky. This is a lovely, kinetic and brooding track.

The next track, Across the Mythic Ocean, is another beauty. It starts with a deep, slow pulsing bass tone before a swelling high tone shimmers into being. It’s an echoey space, a forlorn horn blaring against the rumble. Sea birds can be heard calling, and another prolonged horn-like tone takes over. A drumbeat begins, accompanied by some more lovely undertone chanting, the sound of waves shushing in the background. For me, this track hinted at roughly fashioned boats gliding through a thick sea mist at night, the moon lending everything an otherworldly glow. This soundscape felt hollow and vast, and yet also a little like a lullaby for a troubled sleep.

The last track, Permafrost, rounds up my little trio of favourites. A howling wind and a gentle tone made me think of a cave-like space, the wind sucking at the deeper hollow where the humans might be sheltering. Echoing drumbeats reverberate around the space, a shimmer hanging above them. A peaceful deep chant sounds, and things feel cosy and safe. This soundscape brought to mind images of shifting shadows, flickering fires and sparkling ice crystals. And the cold, but a cold that is being dealt with by the denizens in a pragmatic, sensible way. Another kind of singing vocalization sounds near the midpoint, and the whole thing feels like a vibrating dance in the darkness.

Genesis is a dark ambient album steeped in a time that was so long ago, it almost seems as alien and fantastical as some of the films that we watch on the big screen. Yet we know it happened. All I can say though, is that it feels right to me, someone who wouldn’t last five minutes if he happened to wake up back there tomorrow morning. If that does happen, I’ll be sure to reflect on the accuracy of Paleowolf’s impressions as I get stomped by some vicious beast, clubbed to death, or meet some other messy end.

Visit Genesis on Bandcamp for more info. You can also check out the track: Eastern Tribes below:

I was given access to a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Genesis

Album Artist: Paleowolf

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 20 Dec 2016