Whoever coined the age-old saying, “Evil comes in many forms.”, hit the nail squarely on its head. When it comes to music, the unholy influence of Old Scratch can manifest in about a billion blasphemous ways. Throughout the bloodstained history of extreme music, legendary bands like Slayer, Danzig and pre-career flop Morbid Angel have all expressed their fondness of Hell’s head honcho in largely differing, yet equally and substantially devastating fashions. King Diamond sports a greasepaint inverted cross on his forehead. Meanwhile, Deicide’s unapologetically controversial, Christ-bashing front man, Glen Benton, has one too…branded into the flesh in the same location. Some take the satanic approach by some bands as a serious expression. However, the gimmicks of other bands, such as the visual presence of a band people apparently love to hate like Ghost are dismissed by many as a joke and nothing more. Many have chosen the acoustic route and delivered with infernal truckloads of ominous, satanically-fueled rage in the end result. One could only witness the mellow excursions of the aforementioned Danzig, or Burzum’s prison albums for further convincing. Regardless of the chosen method, all of these bands still invoke a sense that grim malevolence indeed lies somewhere in the creative spark of their demonic art form.

Let it be known that the devil’s more mellow, yet equally dark-hearted ranks have now risen by a few more heads. Hailing from Austin, Texas, the quartet known as Ancient VVisdom (not to be confused with Swedish atmospheric black metal outfit, Ancient Wisdom) features previous members of Integrity and Iron Age. Last year, they unleashed Inner Earth Inferno, a split with the one and only creepy-crawler himself, Charles Manson. The band has just released their follow-up, in the form of A Godlike Inferno (Shinebox Recordings). If you’re only looking for some neck-snapping, blast beat-exploding, gravel throat-screeching, black and/or death madness, then this record may not be for you. Ancient VVisdom are apparently masters of taking the concept of evil into rarely explored territory and producing a record that flat-out kills.

A Godlike Inferno is catchy, laid-back, arcane, and sinister-as-fuck, all the same. “The Opposition” (a definite highlight) is essentially a nearly six-minute number praising Satan’s majesty and vowing allegiance with proclamations like “I am the one they call the Antichrist, a pagan heathen of the night.” and the notion that such loyalty will end all suffering. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no denying this song, with it’s darkly beautiful acoustic intro, is a grand sign of what’s to come. The rest of the record follows suit with the grimly sincere promises and driving pace of “Forever Tonight”, while “Lost Civilation” speaks of the end of our time and “Devil Brain” conjures up a thunderstorm from the abyss with it’s Danzig-esque arrangement. “World of Flesh” invokes the feeling that there is really no turning back, because by this point, A Godlike Inferno has already completely converted your unwitting ass to the fucking dark side. Closing track, “Children of the Wasteland”, takes on perhaps the most somber feel with eerie, nearly-whispered vocals and acoustic strumming that wields the power to turn your clouds black with the quickness that Hell’s flame scorches flesh.

With all of that said, there’s simply no denying the dudes in Ancient VVisdom have both a.) masterfully created quite the hellish, folk-inspired monster with A Godlike Inferno and b.) surely earned points with Lord Lucifer when it comes to unwaveringly supporting his infernal cause. This record will strip away all misconceptions of “extreme” music like so much unwanted flesh. Whether you’re a militant fan of the “all brutal, all the time” set, or otherwise, bear witness to true, non-cliché evil…if you’ve got the guts.