If the meaning of ‘occult’ is the ‘hidden, secret or unknown’, then the occult rock and metal movement might soon need a new name, such is the momentum and attention it’s gained in recent years. While many such bands either dress their message in psychedelic distortion (Jex Thoth, The Devil’s Blood) or pagan-esque folk (Hexvessel, Blood Ceremony), Ancient VVisdom remain very much rooted within rock, even if their use of electric guitar is restrained in favour of a more tribal, acoustic colouring.
In fact, Deathlike is arguably a more conventional record than the band’s more stripped-down debut, the songs steering away from the country and folk overtones to forge a more epic take on Southern rock. Less straightforward too are the lyrics, the explicitly Satanic ethos and ‘Hail Lord Lucifer’s replaced by more veiled, metaphorical writings.
Last but not least, the change in production style has had a profound impact, placing Nathan Opposition’s emotive vocals within the music, as opposed to the debut where they took centre stage. Stirring and dramatic, the album has exchanged the bare bones campfire honesty of its predecessor for a touch more depth, a transition that thankfully comes at no cost to overall quality.