Paleowolf – Genesis

You and your hipster buddies may think that Ted Nugent is the definition of stone age music. Boy, do you have another thing coming.

Cryo Chamber is a label run from Oregon by an ex-pat Swede and his buddies. According to its webpage it was founded as a reaction to the disappearance of Cold Meat Industry and other classic industrial and ambient labels in the early 2010s. The label niche is Cinematic Ambient, a style of music which can best be described as Dark Ambient with a bit more structure. There is a more consistent painting with the tones, perhaps a little more actual instruments, more of an intentional mood. It’s not exactly a question of music that could be used as a movie soundtrack (though it certainly could, given the right type of movie), but rather music that tries to be a movie.

Genesis is a case in point. The album is the second by Paleowolf, a sideproject of Scorpio V from Metatron Omega. In fact, both bands have released two albums each and seem to have been around for about as long, but my somewhat uneducated guess would be that Metatron Omega is a “broader” and more personal project, while Paleowolf operates within a more narrowly defined conceptual framework. Be that as it may, this latest effort of Palewolf’s is a very good example of how Cinematic Ambient may play out. The album features heavy tom-toms and horns, and dark, organic sounding synthesizers wailing and thundering in a massive basin of reverb. The sense of depth is pretty awe inspiring, and there is far more variation than in more generic Dark Ambient releases.

As for the idea to be conveyed by this epic soundscape, with its ritual drums, ill tuned horns, menacing chants and occasional nature samples, it is clearly described in the label’s notes on the release:

“A prehistoric journey from before civilization made it’s mark on the world. Archaic drums echo through the riparian forests. Thick smoke from bonfires snake their way over charred and painted skulls, the spoils of war from opposing tribes. Distant sounds of the forest paints the canvas of a world untouched by modern man. The paleolithic shamans chant powerful over the tribal drums as ancient man rises from prey to predator. The night is young and the feral hunt is about to begin.”

The album comes in a beautiful 6 panel digipak, a form of packaging that creates a certain commonality between Cryo Chamber and the more traditional Dark Ambient label Cyclic Law (which used to be based in Canada, if memory serves, but now peddles its high quality stuff out of Germany – most likely for postage reasons). Genesis is what you’d call a solid release, one you immediately know you’ll listen to more than once. My personal favorite track is the penultimate one; “Across the Mythic Ocean” truly captures what this album intends to be in a perfect manner. Me having a favorite song once again makes the point that this is something different from more typical Dark Ambient – while there are plenty of truly great such albums, there are few that contain hits.

Sorry Mr. Nugent, but at least as far as stone age music goes, Paleowolf’s got you beat.

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