Monday, July 30, 2018

interview: BLOOD OF THE WOLF

The following is an interview with Blood of the Wolf, an extreme metal band from Chicago, U.S.A. Earlier in the year this publication reviewed their 2018 album II: Campaign of Extermination. The review said:
In terms of extreme, Blood of the Wolf works with various strands of black, war, bestial and blackthrash metal, and they also incorporate melodic black metal for a potent album that supporters of the genre will find worthwhile. While some reviewers have paid a nod or a tip of the hat to the Chicago band’s second work, I view it as more important than simply a solid album for a couple of reasons.
Not to ruffle the feathers of some people, and not to pick a fight with anyone, but Wolf of the Blood are rightful inheritors in 2018 to carry the torch from where classic, young Angelcorpse, Dissection and Morbid Angel left off. One reason to be impressed with the album is the professionalism of the recording. They spent the effort that it takes to give fast extreme metal a proper sound, as much as it is possible within the confines of blazing modern metal and within the means of a band without the backing of a big record company.
Another reason is the band’s hunger to write music that respects the best of our traditions: proficient guitar work, strong riffs, dark melodies and a true love for skilled and precise guitar work in general; drumming that will make you bang your head; expressive vocals that are intense but also enunciated/delivered well. In addition, Blood of the Wolf seems to have thought a lot about what kind of vocals work with this music the best. They have a black metal mentality in general, but they do not want the amateurish gremlin screeching associated with homemade black metal rough demos; instead they choose the strong, aggressive vocals of traditional death metal, in line with bands like classic Morbid Angel and Vader.
They made the album as if their lives depended on it. Pound for pound, this album can go toe to toe with any extreme metal album this year that I have heard and approved. They may not be famous, but there is nothing small about their intentions on the album.
The band is not for the politically correct nor for the social justice warriors. The lyrics are concerned with war, dominance, power and subjugation, conquest, brutality and violence. The music of the band is as it is advertised by calling your band Blood of the Wolf.
More than enjoyable album, in my opinion, this work can withstand the critical ears of the selective fans looking for extreme metal inspired by fierce, fast and shredding black, thrash and death metal.
Now here is the interview with Blood of the Wolf.
Hi. Who is answering this interview?
This is Mike, the guitarist/vocalist of Blood of the Wolf.
How are things in Chicago for Blood of the Wolf?
2018 has been very good so far. We released “II: Campaign of Extermination” in April. We have played a handful of shows in Chicago and Milwaukee. We played with Avernus, Morta Skuld and Disiniter. We opened up for Kataklysm in Chicago for the record release show of “Meditations”. We are playing in August in Milwaukee with Prezir, Suffering Hour and Arra. In October we will be opening up for Carach Angren, Mors Principum Est and Wolfheart.
Do you have any news for shows in U.S. and abroad?
We have just played in Chicago and Milwaukee so far. We would love to play in other US cities and abroad if the offer is right.
Is the album selling online well within your expectations, in the U.S. and Europe? What about any other places?
The album sales online are about what we expect considering we are relatively new and we don’t have label support promoting us. Most buyers are American or European. I don’t think we’ve had any sales in Japan or South America. Interestingly, we sell physical copies of our albums just as well.
When someone buys your album, do you see that money or does someone else get to it before you? I have seen that services like Spotify generate basically no money for smaller bands.
Right now, our album is only available through Bandcamp. They take a percentage of the sales. Our albums are $5 each and we get $3.95. I’m glad we get anything, to be honest. You can probably download it for free quite easily. We haven’t used Spotify or iTunes or any other streaming services, but my guess is that you’re right, the bands probably see little to no return.
Are you finding that sales are helping to offset the cost of making the album?
Kind of. Any money helps. We do better with our t-shirts and hoodies than album sales. The band basically pays for itself. If there is profit, it’s not much. But that’s not why we do it.
Do you find good studios to record in Chicago? Do you have any experience?
Any good studio is going to have re-amping ability. For the last two albums, guitars and bass were re-amped. We could use our own gear of course, but that’s kind of an outdated approach. We all have some recording ability, but none of us are pros.
The pioneers of heavy metal in 1960s and 1970s often recorded music as performances, by a whole take. Now it is common to record bit by bit. How do you do it?
My preference is for whatever process will yield the best results. Right now, we do a mixture of whole song performances and recording by takes. I think a lot of it depends on the recording engineer’s style too and how they prefer to record bands. Back in the 60’s and 70’s you had old recording technology. Back then bands recorded that way because that’s what their technology allowed them to do. Our current recording technology allows us to do things differently, more easily and at home. For guitars I like to record riff by riff. Vocals I like to do as a performance, from the beginning to the end of the song. That’s my current preference.
When Blood of the Wolf began, what was the vision of what the music was going to be? You must make this music because in your region you must not hear too many bands playing extreme metal this way, correct?
I don’t think there was a vision first. There was just a collection of songs that became Blood of the Wolf songs. My approach to writing music is to just write the kind of songs I want to hear. There’s not really a vision, not at the beginning anyway. Now, five years down the road, there’s more of an approach to writing a Blood of the Wolf song, but not at the beginning. It’s true that not too many bands in Chicago sound like us, but that doesn’t really have any bearing on what we do. Again, I’m just writing the music I want to hear. My geographic location has nothing to do with that.
Your music is mostly fast, with blasting and rapid guitar work and drums. People might be surprised to find out, however, that your music has lots of melody. What is the role of melody in your music? What role does tremolo picking have in your music and melodies?
Yes, there is quite a bit of melody. That is quite intentional and I’m glad you noticed. I guess that’s where the black metal influence comes in. I’m a big fan of the mid-90’s black metal sound, bands like Dawn or Dissection are a huge influence on my writing style. Of course, I also really like Marduk, Belphegor, Angelcorpse, et. al., so that’s why you hear so much blasting and fast tempo songs. To answer your question, melody plays a huge role and I hope that’s what makes our songs memorable. Blast beats and tremolo picking are staples in our music.
How many years would you say that it took you to learn to play guitar this fast and tight? And how long can you go playing this music at any given time before your fingers and wrists hurt? Can you play for a couple of hours at time and your hands feel fine? What about after three hours?
I’ve been playing guitar for 25 years. I would say I got good enough to play extreme metal after 5 or 6 years. My wrists and fingers never hurt. Doing vocals is more of a strain than guitar playing. I’ve never played for three hours straight though!
On Campaign of Extermination you do have some slower segments, and the song “Beneditio Ultionis” itself is a slow tune, a slow sinister melodic black metal track. Do you remember how this song came about?
I started writing that particular song while I was still in Kommandant. I was definitely influenced by the songs they were writing at that time that had a slower but militant pulse to them (e.g. “Hate is Strength”). I guess for that song I did have a vision. I wanted to write something that had a march feel to it. I guess also, that I can be influenced by things that I hear that I like. I like to let songs come together on their own. Nothing is contrived (well almost nothing), so I can’t say we’ll ever do a song like that again. I have been experimenting with lower tunings though, so you can expect more heaviness in the future.
For Blood of the Wolf, what challenges do you encounter for getting the drum sound that you want?
This is the recording engineer’s job! Luckily, I don’t have to worry about it. Joe Tiberi does a great job of creating a tight low end. The drums have punch and depth but they are still clear and let the mix breathe. He’s done a good job for us.
How much is money an obstacle for getting the desired drums sound? Is another obstacle finding a person that knows how to record drum properly and how to record extreme, fast metal?
You nailed it in the second sentence! It’s just a matter of finding the right person. Their skills, work ethic, recording approach, temperament, etc. needs to match the bands. That’s critical to getting a good recording. You also need to be ready and rehearsed.
Changing the topic here. Lyrics. What role does war play in inspiration for the lyrics? Does any particular historical context provide a point of interest for you?
I would say that on the surface the lyrical topics are mostly about warfare. There are no concrete historical references or mythological ties. But, I guess if you were to interpret the lyrics, to look at them beyond the surface meaning, they are really about strength, determination, discipline, conflict and achievement. Campaign of Extermination was just a cool sounding title that works well with our music, it has no historical reference.
What are your views on misanthropy and nihilism? Do your lyrics intersect with misanthropy and nihilism?
Misanthropy and Nihilism: those are non-productive viewpoints. Sure, people can be pieces of shit, but if you live life like that you’re not going to be very productive or happy and people will not want to be around you for very long. Same for nihilism. You have to believe in something and I don’t mean in a religious way, but in a human endeavor way. I would not say my lyrics intersect with those viewpoints, but someone might hear that.
Do you personally enjoying listening to lots of blasting metal or do you ever get tired of it? For your guitarists, do you have any interest in other styles of guitar, like Cream or BB King or Yngwie Malmsteen or Van Halen or Pink Floyd?
I keep it pretty metal. Sometimes I listen to “lighter” stuff like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Dio, but for the most part it’s aggression and blast beats! I’m not really into guitar players or “shredders”, my “heroes” are song writers, like Morgan from Marduk or Jon from Dissection. I hate Pink Floyd.
Metal Archives says that the band is Mike Koniglio, Frank García, Rick Hernández, and Christopher Grimes. Is this accurate?
That’s it. Best line up the band has had so far.
What merchandise do you have?
We have t-shirts, hoodies, Cd’s, stickers and patches. Check out our Facebook page for all available merch.
Thank you for your time!
Thank you!

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