Hailing from what some might consider the unlikely locale of Boise, Idaho, avant-doom duo Wolvserpent have recently released their latest EP titled Aporia:Kala:Ananta via Relapse Records. The EP consists of one 40-minute track and displays the vast amount of ground the group is capable of covering.

It is certainly worth mentioning that Wolvserpent‘s two members, drummer/violinist Brittany McConnell and guitarist/vocalist Blake Green, came together with a shared interest in modern classical music, particularly composers such as Arvo Pärt and Gyorgy Ligeti. This interest is evident from the opening moments of “Aporia:Kala:Ananta,” which begins with McConnell’s lonesome violin intermingling with soft, deep drones. The track patiently builds upon this foundation, slowly growing in both volume and intensity.

When the track reaches a certain density, the intermingling of strings and percussion seems to simultaneously evoke both the neo-folk sounds of Wardruna and several artists from the old Cold Meat Industry label roster, along with such modern composers such as Nico Muhly or Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood. Wolvserpent spend quite a while inhabiting this territory as well, once again allowing the piece to slowly unfold at its own pace.

Those who come to this release seeking the straightforward heaviness of traditional doom metal probably aren’t going to stick around. (Assuming those people weren’t already sent packing by Wolvserpent‘s last release, 2013’s two-CD Perigaea Antahkarana.) However, those who enjoy what has come before will find their patience amply rewarded at about the 17-minute, mark when the tidal wave of tectonic doom riffs begins. Still, each riff unfolds at a glacial pace, making things more about the texture of the sound rather than the individual notes. The vocals also appear at this point, but not unlike many funeral doom bands, the growls tend to blend into the lower frequencies of the guitar, and hence just become one more element in the bigger picture.

The pace of the riffs is so slow that oftentimes, the song seems to threaten to disintegrate under its own immense weight, and by the end, it actually does, but in a very satisfying way. The last several minutes find the drums dropping out and the guitar engaging in Sunn O))) levels of abstraction. The violin reappears and plays a compact repetitive figure against this, and “Aporia:Kala:Ananta” draws to a close.

When people think of the intersection of heavy metal and classical music, they are often given to conjure up images of guitar shredders abusing harmonic minor scales in self-indulgent moments of virtuosity. Wolvserpent, though, exemplify a deeper relationship between the two styles and show the fertile ground available to those willing to integrate the advances and experimentation of modern classical into their set of influences. Aporia:Kala:Ananta is not going to satisfy more traditional metalheads, but for those who seek more adventurous and satisfying listening experiences, this EP might just prove an essential purchase.

Allen Griffin

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