Have you ever wondered what the world would be like with people? Have you ever wondered what the world had been like before civilization? Think back to the time when the megafauna ruled the earth, beasts who dwarfed their modern cousins, beasts who ruled their territories with absolute authority. The world was a different place, civilization had yet to take root and dominate, man and animal lived in a balance. Life and death were often indistinguishable. Many neo folk albums try to take their listeners back to ancient times, back when the rules of life were simpler, but none of them go as far as Paleowolf. Paleowolf is the undisputed king and master of neo-tribal music. His music goes to the very beginning of mankind, to the very beginning. The music of Paleowolf has always, and will always, bring his listeners back to the primal era, the feral wilds before time. Paleowolf makes the listener understand those time, even if just for a moment. He returns with Megafauna Rituals, a seventy-minute opus to the great beasts of the paleolithic era. Does it hold up against his other albums? Let’s find out.
I’m never disappointed by a Paleowolf release. He has an almost magical ability to make the rest of the world disappear with his music. The sound drowns out everything and encompasses all the senses. From Primordial to Genesis and Prehistoric Meditations to Megafauna Rituals, every album thus far has forced the trappings of civilized life to fall away, to become nothing. As the shamanistic tones rise, so too does the deep urge within us all to escape. The listener’s spirit can return to the wild, to their original primal state.
Paleowolf mixes simple, ritualistic chants with the sounds of the great beasts. A great reverence is shown to the megafauna that rules the lands. They are worshipped as gods, as beings beyond comprehension. On this album, even more so than the previous Paleowolf albums, the music is more than just dark ambient. It combines the dark, shadowy nature of dark ambient, its proclivity to analyze human nature within society and degradation with the haunting, ritualistic, and grandiose nature of neo-folk and its proclivity to analyze the nature of man’s place in the natural order. While the musical psychology is subtle and muted on Megafauna Rituals in favor of vast, sweeping soundscapes, the listener has no choice but to ask things like “Where do I belong in all of this?” and “What it have been like to exist then, was it truly simpler?”
Six of the seven track on Megafauna Rituals are devoted to a paleolithic monster. We recognize the names, Sabertooth, Direwolf, Aurochs, Cavebear, Mammoth, and Megaloceros, but what do we really know about them? We know about them from TV, flims, and books, from museum exhibits and nature documentaries, but those could only ever scratch the surface. We can know their biology and yet completely misunderstand the beasts themselves and their nature. Paleowolf, in his infinite feral wisdom, does. Or at least he makes an attempt to understand them. Megafauna Rituals is not an attempt to study the animals, but to observe them. The listener is encouraged, not to analyze and dissect, but to observe and understand. Even though these beasts have long been gone from the earth, leaving nothing but their bones, they are awe inspiring. They were the utter rulers of their world, they were gods and kings in their own right. They were the height of predation and power.
The listeners of Megafauna Rituals are treated to soundscapes that no longer exist in nature. The sounds reproduced by Paleowolf, those of the animals on their namesake tracks, are as close as we will likely ever come to being able to hear them, to feel their presence in such an intimate way (unless some strange science is about to take place). The sounds, tones, emotional responses, drones, and percussion are all tributes to that time. Paleowolf has taken a great burden upon himself. He has become the link between our modern world and the past. Paleowolf is the bridge that our souls must cross to fulfill that ancient desire to return to the wild. Paleowolf is the call of the wild, beckoning our restless souls. The voice of Paleowolf is the sound of the wind, the ice, the howling of the wolves. There is no greater music than the sounds of nature. There is no greater poetry than the howling of wolves, the snorting of bulls, and growling of bears. There is no greater drama than the struggle to survive.
All credit must be given to Paleowolf, and again I must restate in no uncertain terms that he is the king of this music, the lord of the tribal music, and master of the paleolithic. In the hands of lesser men, this album would have been a droning, melodic ode to our own kin and their conquest of the great beasts of the era. It would have been light hearted, formulaic, and unremarkable. In the hands of Paleowolf, however, it is a masterpiece, a subtle work of art that celebrates the beasts, man, and nature. There’s no need in Paleowolf’s soundscape for instrumental music, no need for electronic sounds or modern melodies. With Paleowolf, the only sounds that are needed is the sound of nature and its worship.
Megafauna Rituals was even better than I imagined it would be. I knew it would be good, but I was blown away. The production on Paleowolf albums has always been superb, folding every sound together like the forging of a sword. Megafauna Rituals was even better. There was more dramatic tension and more ritualistic atmospheres than on any Paleowolf album previously. He’s out done himself here. I would almost ask how he could ever top this but I’m not so stupid as to ask that! Megafauna Rituals is amazing, a pure triumph of musical skill and technique with deep meaning; it takes its listeners away from the modern era and takes them back to where they want to go. No man can ask for better than that. A new benchmark has been set.
Highlights: Aurochs, Cavebear, Direwolf
For Fans Of: Metatron Omega, Wardruna, Paul Minesweeper
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Megafauna Rituals was released independently through Bandcamp on August 23rd, 2017