Based in Lexington, KY, with roots in both Savannah, GA and the California coast, Ancient Warfare are currently promoting their Summer 2015 Alias Records release, The Pale Horse. Since 2011, they have developed a fierce reputation for hard work and dynamic performance, sharing stages with artists such as Raveonettes, Heartless Bastards, The War on Drugs, Chelsea , Mr. Gnome, Lucius. Ancient Warfare’s live show ebbs and flows from hushed harmony vocals to austere, tube-driven waves of sound.
In the winter of 2010, lead singer/guitarist Echo Wilcox approached Duane Lundy of Shangri-La Productions with a compilation of loosely established songs. At the time a student of photography and motion graphics at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Wilcox's composition process was heavily informed by translating traditional visuals into conceptual soundscapes. Lundy, a long-time friend and collaborator, remained producer/engineer of the project as Wilcox fleshed out her original pieces into a wholly realized full length album. Over the following years, the studio became home and haven to the various permutations of Ancient Warfare.
Throughout the band’s debut record, The Pale Horse, singer/guitarist Echo Wilcox voices a vast landscape: last trials and bones, visions and paths to golden fields. Her lyrics are shared secrets, fevered dreams – all anchored by multi-instrumentalist Emily Hagihara (Chico Fellini, Jim James, and solo work). The band's most recent additions include bassist Derek Rhineheimer (Oh My Me), cellist Seth Murphy (Bear Medicine) and lead guitarist Drew English (The Natives, Gowns) and have ensconced in a place of dynamic artistry with Ancient Warfare. Wilcox and her band-mates able to develop the distinctly cinematic, genre-bending sound of their debut album.
"The apocalypse seems the most appropriate subject," said Wilcox. "Not in an epic sense, but in a sense that it is all-encompassing." Indeed, The Pale Horse lures the listener into a golden dreamscape only to darkly demand resolution to the inescapable, universal plagues of love and death. This apocalyptic thread running throughout reminds us that everything good and true can end; The wild beauty of a crashing wave will inevitably become the succumbing regress of the tide. Such polarizing themes are pervasive throughout the record; expansive skies versus one small soul, our eternal quest for answers versus a relieved embrace of cyclical, unavoidable truths. Wilcox's yearning vocals fluctuate in kind, emitted sometimes as a howl as on "Dreamcatcher", sometimes as a macabre rollick as on "Gunsmoke." The resulting sound is of a gothic renaissance breed, evoking images of tribal eccentricity and dramatic decay...
"Ancient Warfare have hit upon a singular lonesome-highway energy, the kind that you can study but cannot fake"
"Ancient Warfare’s dark and quiet intensity transcends the band’s tough-chick exterior. The quartet designs a sonic atmosphere the same way Saul Bass once designed logos: with elegant simplicity and ferocious creativity. The psychedelic aspect to Ancient Warfare’s presentation is more about texture than actual sound, as their languid, fuzzy melodies drift through their ethereal yet solidly constructed songs, like the heavy smoke in an opium den.”
MIDPOINT MUSIC FEST | CRITIC'S PICK
“You don’t need Raoul Duke to throw the radio in so you can ride the waves of Jefferson Airplane to a more fanciful high. Ancient Warfare will ride that grungy wave with you...cryptic vocals bring the haunting contralto spirit of Grace Slick to complement a slow rock progression that brings Forget Cassettes to mind. But what really sets their vibe apart from fellow folk is the violin… Reva William’s looming bass lines twist with Rachel Yaranella’s strings to produce a melancholy whine that floats through slow progressions with easy rests...a slow ride that still doesn’t lose you along the way.”
“Their sound is like a storm blowing in at the edge of town, all foreboding shadows and thunder. They mix bits of 60s folk and psychedelic groups with the edge of PJ Harvey and the narcotic blues of Mazzy Star with a dash of gothy gloom.”
KNOW YOUR OWN
"Ancient Warfare have hit upon a singular lonesome-highway energy, the kind that you can study but cannot fake."
PITCHFORK MAGAZINE (Album rated 7.3)
"The band’s sound is relentless; even its quiet moments are full of barely contained emotions."
MAGNET MAGAZINE feature
"Echo Wilcox is haunted by voices – sometimes these voices will briefly emerge, half-heard in the background static, but more often they are unheard and unseen, part of the dark background in Ancient Warfare’s cinematic new album, The Pale Horse."
by John Schaefer
"A steady rocker with a unique vocal and lyrical approach, “Gunsmoke” builds into a burst of atmosphere and textured “ahhs.”
"These folks are creating music with darker edges and a more rough spontaneous feel. Ms. Wilcox has a killer voice that really makes these tunes kick. Hard to compare these songs to any one artist or band, but you will probably hear a ton of influences swimming around in the mix. If you loved underground bands from the 1990s, there's an excellent possibility you'll totally dig this album. Uniquely rewarding cuts include "Darlin," "Gunsmoke," "Rolling Tides," and "Wintertimes."
"After those who pick up The Pale Horse run front-to-back with it (and you will readers - you might not know it yet, but you will), they'll understand what it means to have fallen in love with someone they've never met; this band will hold their hearts. They'll want more - they'll need more - and they'll find the fact that they have no idea how long it will be before Ancient Warfare releases a follow-up frustrating and the wait required a tedious chore. They'll be won by this, but it will be hard to feel as though it's a prize, because of that."
"Sometimes, you want a song to set you up on a pop high and carry you to the next track on a wave of euphoric melodies and hummable harmonies. Other times, though, you want something a bit darker and more impressionistic. And that's where Lexington, Kentucky-based group Ancient Warfare comes in, with a sound that's completely ethereal and hard-hitting in equal measure. Every note seems to build into some kind of rhythmic fever dream of apocalyptic unease and questions about the nature of love and death. The band isn't looking to take the easy way out and has crafted a sound that feels drawn from your darkest and deepest fears."
NOTES FROM LEFT OF THE DIAL // NOOGA.COM
"While everyone else will be releasing songs about popsicles and dance parties, The Pale Horse grapples with the apocalypse and the universal plagues a of love and death"