Slowly we ruin and spoil what we designed
Surely we wreck and crush the flesh of our flesh
Grind the bones of our bones
Dissolve the spirit of our spirit
Warning: Wolok do not create music for the weak at heart. Their albums are not safe places. The turgid madness and gibbering insanity within can only be described as an assault on the mind, not through intensity but through channeling the surreal, absurd and hideous; challenging and in opposition of everything.
I discovered this for the very first time when their latest symphony of sickness was heaved splattering upon my doorstep towards the end of last year. One listen to their side of split with Rotting Heaven ‘The Anatomy of Madness’ and I was hooked; spiralling down the wretched vortex of their discography until I wasn’t even sure what was real anymore. To help make sense of it all I asked main vessel and conduit for their discordant delights Eymeric Germain, holed up in his native habitat of Luxembourg, if he could provide any further insight. Having given grotesque birth to the project back in 2003 alongside vocalist Luc “Lhükkmer’thz” Mertz plus being wholly responsible for the name Wolok when he utilised a moment of trance-like automatic writing to scrawl the word in logo format; who better to attempt to explain the lunacy? Thankfully, he obliged, the resulting conversation both restoring some semblance of my sanity and simultaneously making it much, much worse.
It should go without saying that I’m now a huge fan of their work and cannot recommend it highly enough to fans of the unconventional and downright disturbing; so without further unnecessary or woefully inadequate words, prepare as best you can and read on below to tumble scrabbling and flailing into the seething black hole that is Wolok.
Hello Eymeric! Sincerest thanks for speaking with us. So, for some unfortunate reason I’d never heard the sweet sounds of WOLOK before last year’s split with ROTTING HEAVEN, ‘The Anatomy of Madness’. I’ve since traversed the warped, evil landscapes of your discography and aside from absolutely loving it, I have to ask… What the hell is going on in your heads?
– Your words of support and wisdom suit us right to the heart. It is always rewarding to know we can still thrill new fans with our music, even somewhat belatedly. As you traversed the evil landscapes of our discography and now know every single note of each song, I guess you noticed there is indeed a whirlwind of mess and noise spiralling in our heads. I cannot speak for the other two members in the band, but in my case, being the project’s mastermind, I go into a trance-like state when I lock myself in the room and compose. Writing music for WOLOK is like to be blind for a few hours. It is like I cut myself off from the world and explore unconscious territories, reaching the inner spheres of chaos and savagery. I am a very calm, poised and serene person in everyday life, but when I go into that trance-like WOLOK shit, I get caught up in subconscious fear, anger, sorrow, anxiety, extravagance, lunacy and absurdity. Hence the bizarre tunes.
Being a little abstract: what would you say WOLOK is, what is its purpose, and how did it come to exist? Is it the same beast as it was fifteen years ago?
– My only purpose with WOLOK is to basically express my creativity, my vision of dismal music, my own interpretation of dark arts and, of course, to give free rein to my bleakest urges. WOLOK is not a band per se; it is more a collective studio project. Obviously, our artistic approach has progressed over time, but you will always have that twisted governing principle on all releases. Whatever the release, you should be immediately able to say “yes of course, this is WOLOK”. Musically, WOLOK is unpredictable. ‘Universal Void‘ (2003) was a primitive and crude black hole, ‘Servum Pecus‘ (2006) and ‘Caput Mortuum‘ (2009) were convoluted, tortuous efforts… while our most recent works (‘The Silver Cord‘ EP in 2013 and ‘The Anatomy Of Madness‘ split album in 2017) head more towards blackened doom territories. The beast has evolved over the years but the ugliness is intact.
Much of your work often sounds like a variety of deteriorating mental and physical deformities given audio form. What is your writing process like? Do you have any premeditated idea or purpose in mind when you begin to write, or is it more of a cathartic channeling of whatever demented energies need to escape at the time?
– The way I write music is not standard. It is mainly based on improvisation. The blackness springing from the strings is spontaneous and uncontrolled. I actually always worked like that. Typically, I will spend three or four full days writing and recording music, partially or completely cut off from the outside world. Then Cypher will take the lead to arrange and enhance the whole magma, just before Luc pukes the words of madness. Then it can happen I do not play any instrument anymore for one or two years… until the next ritual.
As opposed to the usual satanic or occult themes, in both sound and word your overall body of work almost seems a wild, nihilistic and negative celebration of chaos, absurdity and utter hatred. Would you say this resembles your personal philosophies and thoughts on humanity?
– I am someone discreet and down-to-earth. But the lyrics reflect really personal views on the meaning of life. There is a strong parallel between the absurdity of existence and our meandering, sinuous tunes. I am not willing to elaborate a bit more on that, since my lyrics are entirely open to self interpretation.
Heading back to the 2017 split with ROTTING HEAVEN: that was fucking mental and probably bears the least resemblance to “standard” black metal of anything you’ve done so far, which is saying something. How did it come about? Were you happy with it?
– Definitely more than satisfied. That split album is fantastic and sounds exactly the way I wanted to, exploring the richness of Black Arts through different prisms. I agree that our approach gets some distance from usual Black Metal as you say, but this is just WOLOK’s own interpretation of Black Metal. It is deviant. Hard to predict. Out of control. Unreliable. The three songs are so different from each other; I think we have now reached a multifaceted depth. ‘The Murky Waters Of Life’ sounds, as its name suggests… fucking murky. The song’s structure is so turbid and disconcerting. Then ‘Tremors’ will lead you into the oblivion of dementia, with a grandiose doom finale. ‘Skull Gnawer’ will eventually destabilize everyone with a basic, repetitive and unusually melodic construction, opening the gates of hope and transcendence.
I believe the split was mixed and mastered in 2015. Why the two year delay before release? Pressing plant woes?
– There were no pressing plant issues. Death Knell Productions is a really small underground entity and they offer quality releases with an admirable passion. Their dedication is boundless but those dudes also have regular life and jobs and shit, and of course they cannot always stick to their initial reverse scheduling plan. The delay was considerable, but who cares…
You’ve worked with a few labels throughout the life of the band, but the last couple of releases have been through Death Knell Productions. How has it been working with them?
– As mentioned above, they’re a small Russian structure devoted to underground black filth. I got in touch with Shamil back in 2013 and we quickly clinched a deal to release ‘The Silver Cord’ EP on Death Knell Productions. Their back catalogue is utterly brilliant and I robustly recommend you to check VTTA, ROTTING HEAVEN, HUMAN SERPENT, DRAUG and THE PALE HAND.
Do you listen to many artists that you consider truly experimental, avant-garde or just plain boundary pushing, and have any influenced WOLOK at all?
– I listen to so many musical genres. I’m open to any kind of music, provided that it tugs at my heartstrings. But when it comes to experimental & avant-garde music, the artistic palette is infinite. I mean, what does “experimental” signify? What does “avant-garde” signify? The definition is complex as it gathers countless artistic flairs. My favourite bands are VIRUS, ULVER, ZEAL & ARDOR, SHINING (from Norway – not the Swedish pricks), KING CRIMSON, OXYPLEGATZ, HAIL SPIRIT NOIR, ARCTURUS, ORANSSI PAZUZU, JAMBINAI and incalculable others. I could drop names for hours. But I think there is no interaction between those reverenced influences and WOLOK as I do not pretend to equal the talent of those artists.
This is going back a few years, but I learned while researching this piece that you used to run Foedus Aeternus, the French ‘zine, label and distro. Why did you close that down? Would you do something like that again?
– We simply decided to stop all activities under Foedus Aeternus (magazine / label / distro) for personal reasons: lack of time, progressive dedication loss, etc. I have really good memories from that period and would definitely like to do something like that again if I was able to. I mean if I had free time again.
As far as I am aware, WOLOK has never been a live entity. What would it take for you to go down that route?
– WOLOK has never been a live entity. WOLOK will never be a live entity. We all live far from each other and never rehearse. We all have time-consuming jobs, we all have children, etc. Playing live as a band requires rigour… precision… sacrifices… blood! Just to show you we are definitely an atypical band: Luc (vocals) has never met Cypher (drums & arrangements) in person.
What’s next for WOLOK? And, if you’d be so kind as to throw a bone to all the fans of your twisted black vomit: any news on another full-length yet?
A new full-length album, ‘Fading Mirth And Dry Heaves’, is indeed in progress. It is composed of five new eccentric songs. At the time of writing this, Luc is recording all vocals parts. I am quite confident our fans will be discountenanced again. I wish the album could be released by the end of the year or early next year. Annihilation soon.
And lastly… Someone asks you to show them the definitive WOLOK track. What do you do?
– Tough question, but I think I would pick an insidious song called ‘Bitter Swill’ from the upcoming album. I think it perfectly depicts the essence of the contemporary WOLOK. You will understand what I mean when you listen to that song in a couple of months.
Sincerest thanks once again for your time and allowing us a glimpse into the madness. Any final words?
– Massive thanks for your support Aaron. Our devious cacophony will make your readers weaker everyday if they dare to dig our discography on our Bandcamp page: www.wolok.bandcamp.com.
Purchase Wolok‘s ‘The Anatomy of Madness’ split with Rotting Heaven on CD from Death Knell Productions here.
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