James talks with Corvus of Belgian psychedelic black metal/drone/doom/ambient act Wolvennest about their new album The Dark Path To The Light, out now on Ván Records. They also discuss the band’s influences and creative process, working with the incredibly talented Mothmeister, why more bands don’t incorporate psychedelic elements into black metal and more.
Written by James Sweetlove
James: How would you describe the style of music that you play?
Corvus: I’m not actually sure. We never tried to play a specific genre. I guess that occult rock for metalheads who grew up with Black Metal, ambient and some Hard Rock/Stoner/Doom music around would make sense.
James: What has the reception been towards your latest album?
Corvus: I don’t really read reviews, as I’m more focused on what could be the next chapter, but it seems our last album found its place in a lot of end of the year list, which is of course an honor.
James: What was the inspiration for The Dark Path To The Light?
Love, fear, death, psychose.
James: Is there an underlying story running throughout the album?
Corvus: Not really a story but I believe there are emotions that come in mind. If listeners feel those emotions, than I’m happy. It all about being honest in what you propose musically. It has to come from the heart. Regarding Adversaries, it was about dealing with psychoses with any form of escape, and the Dark Path song is about finding a way to cherish the last moment of existence. But the title of the album can be a way of life that kind of reflects us.
James: What inspired the album art and the use of Mesopatamian imagery? Who created the image?
Corvus: the Belgian artist Mothmeister. They worked in the past with Front 242, Behemoth and are really devoted, without any ego. They know what they do and why they do it. They feel the energy of the music and the band and the association made total sense. Shazzula, who loves to travel for her filming stuff, did a lot of work about finding weird and magical places. Those places are a good metaphor of our music. It’s somewhere lost between time and space, a little moment of escape for the mind, away from the physical world.
James: How did you come to work with Ván Records?
Corvus: Leslie( who has been involved in Wolvennest between 2016 and 2022) from Thousand Lost Civilisations knew the label for years., and made the connection. It just made sense and we felt home from day one. It’s a special label with weird and special bands. As a listener, I used to love a lot of Van records bands, especially Urfaust, the Devil’s Blood. And still this label can release great “niche” stuff today like Mortifero. It’s a weird label for weird people. If it’s released by Van records, you can expect a certain level of authenticity, and that’s what matters the most in my eyes, whatever the style.
James: What is your creative and recording process as a band?
Corvus: It depends on the song. I can propose demos to the other guitarists, then the three of us have studio sessions and work on it and are free to arrange it. Sometimes it’s close to my demo, sometimes not. Of course, everybody is free to come with songs, ideas, melodies. We also let some room for the magic of the moment and if the other guitarists have a concrete idea for a song, I’m up for it. Kirby proposed the song The Gates on “Void and it’s one of my favourite Wolvennest song for example.
At the end, all that matters is that it sounds like Wolvennest, with the input of everybody, piece by piece. It’s a band and we make sure every album sounds like a band. It’s sometimes difficult to agree on the orientation of a song, the whole sound, the “vibe”, but we have the chance to have Déhà since day one for the mix and he always made sure that, in the end, there will be a cohesion. He knows the DNA of the band, appeared on all of our releases and is important off stage.
For our last album, we all agreed about doing a “short” album, Side A/Side B style, like in the seventies. Starting from that, we made sure that every single second would make sense. The intro of the album is the shortest song we ever did, but we did several versions of it. We really took care of every detail. This format offered us the opportunity to go deeper. That decision was not based on a “it will be easier” feeling, but more about creating an album with its own identity. The Dark Path is not Void or Temple, it has its own aura (I hope) and identity.
James: Who would you say are your biggest inspirations musically?
Corvus: I grew up with Dissection, Emperor, the two first Strapping Young Lad, old Enslaved etc and a lot of classic rock in the ears but I don’t have inspirations from other bands, as I want Wolvennest to be as unique as possible. Even if I realize that I love those bands because they never forgot to write riffs and melodies. And that’s what heavy music is all about.
But I love bands like Reverorum Ib Malacht, Voidsphere, Misthyrming, Ruins of Beverast. I can be influenced by the devotion of a musician for his art, but not by how he does music. That’s his music and I don’t want to touch that. It’s a territory I respect.
James: Why do you think that more black metal acts don’t work psychedelic elements into their music?
No idea. But you have great bands mixing that. Skaphe, Blut Aus Nord, Hwwauoch, even modern Enslaved in a way, or Oranssi Pazuzu more recently.
Black Metal is the genre I love and practice the most, and it’s a lot of discipline. I guess that psychedelic music can be the opposite (not in a bad way).
James: What is the underground music scene like in Brussels? Any local bands we should check out?
Corvus: There are some great bands. Right now I would say Echo Solar Void. Killer band to see live.
James: If you could tour with any currently active bands who would they be?
Corvus: I would say Ruins of Beverast.
James: How do you all listen to music: vinyl, CD, cassette or streaming?
Corvus: I deeply dislike Spotify but I enjoy Bandcamp. I hope the people who bought it lately will not destroy it, because the underground relies on that website. But I don’t listen to a lot of music to be honest. It’s a sacrifice but I want to have the virgin ears when I do music for the bands I’m involved in.
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The Dark Path To The Light Album Review
Album: The Dark Path To The Light
Label: Ván Records
Release Date: October 6, 2023
Location: Brussels, Belgium
Genre: Psychedelic Black Metal/Ambient
Written by James Sweetlove
I’ll be honest, this is my first encounter with Wolvennest, but wow do they know how to make an impression. With their third album, The Dark Path To The Light, the Belgian psychedelic black metal/ambient act take us on a dark, immersive and at times almost cinematic journey into ancient worlds and spiritual realms, sprinkling in elements of gothic, funeral doom, noise and drone.
The release immediately kicks off with a dark, haunting offering of ambience, unsettling spoken word, folk elements and what feels like ceremonial passages with Lost Civilizations. This track immediately sets the tone of the album, you know what comes next is going to be moody, complex and immersive.
After this introduction we launch into Adversaries, where Shazulla’s vocals grant her our full attention. Her voice is both smooth and silky, as well as mysterious and depressive, as if she has sorrowful secrets to impart upon us. The guitar on the track is a mix of melodic and atmospheric with some psychedelic tinges dropped in here and there, even reaching some noisy heavy psych levels of fuzz in a few moments.
The following track Deathless Love brings in Déhà’s clean vocals, as he sings in harmony with Shazulla at several points on the track. This one is a little catchier in its chorus but a little heavier and more direct in its overall delivery. What really stands out here though is the guitar work, where we see some stunning solos that carry both a sadness and a glimmer of hope to them, like a hand reaching out from underwater, waiting to be pulled up.
Following this we have The Timeless All And Nothing , one of my favourite tracks on the albim and the first time that we get to hear Déhà’s harsh vocals, and boy are they worth the wait. Exploding out of waves of toned down psychedelic guitar and keyboards, ushering in the most black metal sounding riffs so far on the release come harsh, commandingly barked vocals. The back and forth between relaxed, spacy psychedelic elements and black metal aggression is captivating and their union is a sight to behold. The way that the band manages to keep the bite and tone of black metal guitar but plug it into psychedelic rock rhythms and energy is just amazing, particularly in the last 45 seconds of the track.
Next up we have the title track, The Dark Path To The Light, which takes an almost funeral doom meets atmospheric black metal approach. The intro of the song really sets it up for what it will be, opening with a heavy dose of ambient electronic, keyboard and stripped back instrumental elements, as well as some muddled, faded vocals. Once things kick off Shazulla gives us her most depressive performance on the album, toning down the energy in her delivery. The guitars get softer, spacier and more atmospheric, pulling back a little on the psych elements, but still keeping them there subtly. Overall its a beautiful track and I can see why they picked it as the single.
Lastly, but not least we have the closing track Accabadora, and what a wild card this one is. It takes things in a far wilder, more epic and noisier direction. It initially kicks off with a barked chant of the tracks title by who I can only assume is Shazulla, a chant that will repeat throughout the track. We get some absolutely killer shredding on this song, with an almost Middle Eastern tinge to its sound. You’ll find segments of spoken word and what sounds like ceremonial chanting and incantations throughout the latter half of the song. Thrown in with this are droning, harsh noise elements and wailing, closing out the album with a dramatic flair.
Overall this is one hell of a release and I guarantee that even if it isn’t your thing, at the very least you will find it interesting and engaging. The band do an amazing job of drawing the listener in with immersive