Saturday 17 March 2012

WOLVHAMMER - Kult of the Black Abyss

American quartet Wolvhammer made a name for itself with the furious assault of thrashy blackened sludge metal, "Black Marketeers of World War III", which was released in mid-2010. In October 2011 the band dropped the follow-up "The Obsidian Plains" on Profound Lore. The album offered pummeling riffs, a dark atmosphere, crushing hooks and the band's most mature and well-weighed material to date. Guitarist Jeff Wilson talked to We Wither about what is going on in the world ruled by the Wolvhammer.

fot. Samantha Marble
You only started playing together as Wolvhammer in 2008 and since then you have recorded a demo, an EP and two awesome full-lengths. You're quite determined to make a name for yourself as soon as possible, aren't you?
Not necessarily, I think we’re going to take a little bit longer with the next full length.  "The Obsidian Plains" was a little bit different in direction than the previous material, so I think we’re going to take some time and figure out where we’re going to go next. We don’t exactly want to burn ourselves out either. In America especially, the shelf life of a band is so short these days.

Do you intend to keep putting out records so often? Is another album coming in 2012 or early 2013?
The only thing we’re working on currently is a cover of The Cure’s “Burn”. I don’t imagine we’ll start working on the next LP until early 2013. So possibly a new release late next year or early 2014, but who knows, could be sooner.

fot. Carmelo EspaƱola
Where would you like Wolvhammer to go in the next couple of years?
I don’t think we’re going to stray too far off of the path we’re already on. We’re always going to be rooted within the black/sludge template, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t push the boundaries or people’s buttons a little. I think in our collective opinion, EPs are more for experimenting, but full lengths should be a focused piece of work. At this point, there hasn’t been much conversation regarding our expectations, next move, etc.

"The Obsidian Plains" at times sounds like Eyehategod and at others like Darkthrone. Are sludge and black metal your favourite styles or you don't necessarily listen to them a lot?
Personally, I’ve been listening to metal for over 15 years. Obviously, there are always bands in those genres that I’m going to listen to and on occasion a newer band will catch my attention as well. For the most part though, I tend to stick to mellower types of music these days. Metal is still the biggest part of my life, but there’s a lot of other music I’d like to catch up on.

How would you explain the slogan from one of your early flyers, "Working class antichristian"?
This was before my time in the band, so you’d have to ask one of the other members for a better explanation. I will say, it’s a very good fit for our ethic inside and outside of the band though.

"Black Marketeers of World War III" had more melodic and catchy hooks than "The Obsidian Plains". Did you go more brutal for a specific purpose?
I think when you finish the first couple songs for a specific record, it sort of sets the pace for where the rest will go. We’ve never really gone into a session saying we’re going to write this or that. The song just works itself out on its own, we each add our style and that’s what you get in the end.  When you change lineups, you change the band’s style, it’s that simple.

Once again your record was produced by Sanford Parker. How much does he boost your studio efforts?
Sanford is obviously famous for what he does for a reason, the guy gets great tones and has great ideas. It’s definitely a relaxed atmosphere working with him, which doesn’t hurt either. I’ve done a lot of recordings with him at this point, so it just makes sense.
fot. Carmelo EspaƱola
Is what you're doing with Wolvhammer influenced somehow by your 5 year spell in Nachtmystium? Did you leave to focus on the new band?
Not really, I think some of the newer influences we’re using are just my playing style in general. I write how I write and it’s fairly noticeable if you listen close enough to any of the projects I’ve worked on. The songs for Chrome Waves or Nachtmystium are completely different from those of Wolvhammer, but the style/vibe are easily one and the same, I take that back, Sentinels could’ve gone either way now that I think about it.
I left Nachtmystium for a lot of different reasons, none of which I feel are any of the public’s business, but no, I wasn’t a part of Wolvhammer when leaving that band.

What is that place on the cover of "The Obsidian Plains"?
Our good friend, Jimmy Hubbard took all of the photographs for the record in New York. We basically gave him an advanced copy and just told him to go with it. I think it turned out really well. It looks just like it sounds, black and grey.

How much are lyrics and the image of the band important to you in contrast to focusing mainly on the music itself?
All of these things are important for us, but obviously the most important aspect is still the songwriting. The riffs, the atmosphere, the lyrics, as well as visual presentation are very key in setting the vibe we wish to portray.

fot. Samantha Marble
Do you think extreme hybrids like Wolvhammer, which combine different extreme styles, are the biggest force in the US underground scene at the moment? Lots of bands put together death black thrash and sludge metal elements. Those who play straight up death or thrash seem to be in the minority.
I think it depends on the band. In my opinion, 99% of musicians have no idea how to blend the genres properly. There’s no flow and it all seems forced. That being said, I think there’s definitely a larger market for it here than anywhere.

What albums of 2011 did you find interesting?
Soft Kill "An Open Door", Cold Cave "Cherish the Light Years", The Atlas Moth "An Ache for the Distance", Prurient "Bermuda Drain", Mournful Congregation -"The Book of Kings", Loss "Despond", 40 Watt Sun "The Inside Room", M83 "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming", Girls "Father, Son, Holy Ghost", PJ Harvey "Let England Shake". Honorable mentions: Wolves in the Throne Room "Celestial Lineage" and Leviathan  "True Traitor, True Whore".