The masters of confounding black chaos return to turn more supplicants to the noise side. And this time, they’ve brought along friends.
Wolok first came to my attention with Caput Mortuum, a bleak, pneumatic blend of white noise and characteristically French black metal nihilism that seemed to embrace a sort of fatalistic penchant for divine absurdity. On its surface, the collective work of the baffling Luxembourg-based trio can be described as industrial black metal, but the band’s unorthodox approach and unsettling thematic conviction render them a much stranger beast in execution. Caught somewhere in the miasmic drift between similar acts Blut Aus Nord and noisy upstarts WOLD, Wolok walk a novel path of artistry and complexity.
Although loosely black metal, the style of extremity peddled by the trio lacks many defining characteristics of the genre. Tremolo riffs are far less common than strangely dissonant, spazzed out chords. Rolling bass riffs wander through electric swaths of feedback and keys like lost idiot beasts, and blast beats are just as likely to batter the sidereal riffs in one song as they are to be completely absent in the next, sacrificed upon an altar of doom tempos and cavernous percussion. Above all the sound and thunder rides vocalist Lhükkmer’thz’s profane gibbering, less black metal shriek and more atavistic burble. Throw in a healthy dose of Beksiński, and you’ve got the right incantation to conjure a cosmic horror lover’s worst dream.
Perhaps what I found most intriguing about Wolok, though, is the band’s capability to trigger a far stronger synesthetic response than most other acts in black metal. When I listen to Wolok, it’s impossible for me to not envision vaguely blue congeries of alien light and twisting, non-euclidean shapes atop the demonic surf riffs and skank beats. The strongest impression lent, though, is one of seeing the world through a series of fogged-over tubes or fractured glass; the music on the other side has the proportions and angles all wrong. If normal black metal by a band I enjoy, say Paysage d’Hiver, is Picasso’s La Vie, Wolok is Guernica.
It is with great elation, then, that I get to announce the cubist extremists’ upcoming split with labelmates Rotting Heaven. The announcement was made on label Death Knell Productions’ Facebook page.
As you can see in that post, Wolok have uploaded a sample from their side of the split to their Bandcamp page. The sample is pitifully short, but it hits all the high points you’d expect from the band: a ghastly tone, some Terra Tenebrosa-esque nefarious bass work, and arcane, slightly muted grunts. “Tremors” tells us little about how the new music will sound aside from the fact that the record may be slightly clearer than past efforts. I’m curious to see whether the added clarity will hinder their trademark obfuscation or provide a new level of horror by granting us an ability to look directly at the devils in the details. I’m not much into the art, either, but hopefully this is just a demo cover.
I’m far less familiar with Rotting Heaven, but after several rotations of For the Greater Glory…, I can certainly see why this band has been chosen as the yin to Wolok’s yang. Although Rotting Heaven’s take on black metal is far more orthodox than Wolok’s, there are a number of ecclectic appurtenances that set them apart from the occult flock. Electronic hisses and prominent, almost jazzy basslines (reminiscent of doom acts like Myopic, oddly enough) frolic about across songs like “Triumph.” Other songs, like the cover of Christcide‘s “Faith and Bloodstench” show the band indulging their machinist side. Aside from maybe Howls of Ebb, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better fit for Wolok’s mania.
As stated in the above Facebook post, The Anatomy of Madness will drop on CD via Death Knell sometime this spring, so keep an open eye and ear on Death Knell’s Bandcamp page. In the meantime, wander over to Wolok’s Facebook page and tell them “Wololololololo!”