The aim of the open series of the blogzine´s Seven Gates of Hell interviews is to introduce the bands and their music that struck my metalhead´s heart and soul recently. In seven questions, the gates are open for those who make their music of true metal spirit, pure dedication and of what I understand as underground approach and aesthetics.
It really pays off to be attentive to underground black metal hideouts out of your usual beaten track. It definitely does so when it comes to the British scene and its Manchester horde WODE who put out their mesmerizing eponymous debut album last year. The band was born with a two-member line-up of the guitar player M.C. and the drummer T.H. in 2010, some time later inviting two other musicians to form a full-fledged act charged with fresh energy to assault concert stages of their homeland darkened underworld. After the release of their "Demo 2011", WODE spent years with breeding their fallen spirit and recently gave it its first sprouts on the striking full-length record. In the following interview, the band's drummer T.H. gave some more insight into the band's nature and their bewitching music.
I. Did you have from the very beginning the idea that you want the band to get out of a rehearsal room soon and be quite active in performing live shows?
"We wanted to be a gigging band but wanted it to sound fully formed so we were happy to take our time in the practice room to make sure it sounded good before playing live. Studio bands are fine but you lose the extreme volume of the live setting which is an important dimension to extreme music."
II. You said you were very picky in choosing the right songs for your debut album. How much did your live show experience help you in that?
"Some songs fell by the wayside during our development in the run up to recording the first album. Sometimes because of line-up changes and sometimes for no real reason. The 30 min slot that gigs tend to allow can sometimes cause songs to be lost as you end up focussing on a certain set of songs. The songs that don't get practised can get forgotten and lost before they've had a chance to develop which is a shame but you have to drive forwards to keep things fresh - there's not always time for stragglers."
III. The album reveals two different sides of WODE's face, the band's strong inclination towards rough, old-school black metal spirit as well as your cultivated sense for modernity. What is your stance on tradition and progressiveness in the genre and their mutual complementarity?
"There are those who insist on blast beat orthodoxy in a kind of post-music way, and there is a place for that, but innovation keeps things fresh and without it black metal wouldn't be exciting. Innovation doesn't necessarily have to mean being technical, it can also mean experimenting with different atmospheres. You can even experiment in orthodoxy and innovate with traditionalism, which might describe WODE's approach."
IV. To follow on the previous question, the first three tracks of "Wode" seem to bring up much of the raw esence of your music, while the second half of the album is more open to seasoning ideas and unusual compositional patterns. Does this kind of developing mode suggest something about the band's music journey from the early days to the present?
"Maybe, although not in a chronological sense as the tracklist doesn't reflect the order in which the songs were written, but I can see what you mean as the tracks were ordered to give a sense of 'journey'. I think when the next album comes out you'll get more of a sense of how far we've come as a band."
V. For the tape edition of your debut you chose a different cover picture than for its vinyl and CD versions. In my view, the sight of the gloomy temple is by far more suggestive about "Wode" music, than the indistinctive natural scene of the MC cover. What was the reason for that choice?
"That was the tape label's doing; I think they wanted a different cover to give the cassette release its own identity. I would agree that the main cover is more expressive and is the defining image of the album."
VI. Lot of today's black metal with its occult tendencies is more positive about life prospects than it used to be in its early years, at least when it comes to a spiritual side of human existence. While you stand at the "closed gate of paradise" and "realise my self-deception now, waiting for the serpent to tempt me" to "pale colours of the afterlife", you seem to be rather ruined in your hopes. Can you see, as many other fallen metal souls, the light within the darkness?
"Darkness in art has a special energy that lifts the spirits - maybe not towards traditional sources of 'light' but definitely in a direction that feels positive. Then again, it can also feel satisfying to have your spirit crushed entirely, so the relationship between light and dark is complex. We don't use music as a way of working out personal angst or feelings - its more about channeling the darkness in abstract. We're dark and heavy so 'light' is really the opposite of what we're about."
VII. You promise a new full-length being released soon. With your very promising debut out, was it easier for you to compose for the new record?
"The response to the first record was definitely encouraging and we were keen to follow it up quickly. I think that urgency comes across in the new record - the songs are short and to-the-point and we've explored some of the death metal textures that we touched on with the first album. It came together quickly and was satisfying to make."
Thanks a lot for your answers. Looking forward to your next release, with hope to see you soon playing live somewhere around!