WODE is born in the post-industrial gloom of Manchester, UK. A Black Metal Quartet that with each release shows itself curious in exploring new territory. WAGNER & HEAVY METAL asked singer & multi-instrumentalist MICHAEL CZERWONIUK about the band's influences and sources of inspiration.
1. How aware are you of your influences when you write?
Difficult to say. A song will typically start with one of us coming up with a riff at home, which may have been influenced by something we were listening to or just through playing around on guitar. Once the riff or fragment is brought to the rehearsal room it will go through various changes and new sections will be written on the fly. Sometimes these sections will be labelled ‘the x-band riff’ if there’s some similarity to another band and for ease of communication, but any similarity will usually become apparent a bit later on. The music, particularly with the new album, passes through a lot of different styles (black metal, death metal, heavy metal, punk, doom metal) partly because we want a song to take many unexpected turns and also just because that’s the kind of music we’re into. I think the care we take when arranging makes the music sound cohesive despite being so varied, and the band’s personality makes the music sound like its own thing rather than a sum of its parts.
2. Burn In Many Mirrors means again that the band has expanded its sound compared to its predecessor(s). Is every new record a conscious exploration of new territory? Do you think it's important not to repeat things? How do you see the development of the band's music?
We try not to repeat ourselves too much and tend to view each album as a separate statement but we don’t have a preconceived notion of how an album will sound before we start writing. Once we’d written the first song for the album (Sulphuric Glow) it became apparent that we were tapping into something that felt new to us, more dramatic and with a lot of different elements. But again, that exploration was quite an organic thing, aided by a few beers and the enjoyment of following a song down the rabbit hole rather than writing with some grand plan in mind.
Of course some elements from the previous albums are going to be present either intentionally or subconsciously, simply because it’s mostly the same people writing the music, but generally we are always trying to push things into different territory.
3. Does each band member bring their own specific influences or are all the band members into the exact same music?
We’re not all into the exact same music but our tastes tend to align when it comes to the fundamental music that the band draws from. We all contribute riffs and sections when we write together and each of us has a different way of writing and type of riff that we tend to come up with, which is what makes the music quite diverse.
4. Beside influences inside metal (Judas Priest etc.), do you have any influences outside metal?
The music we write is fairly oblique in nature so we’re open to inspiration from a wide range of sources outside of metal as long as it fits the right kind of mood. For example, the nihilistic heaviness of a band like Swans in their early days, the raw power(!) of the Stooges, darker 80s punk/post-punk like Amebix, Die Kreuzen, Christian Death, Killing Joke, the atmosphere and synthetic elements of groups like Coil, Dead Can Dance and Popol Vuh all feed into what we’re doing in some way.
5. How do you rate the importance of the lyrics? What inspires the band the most when it comes to writing lyrics?
Lyrics and themes are very important in building a world which an album inhabits. Much like the music, lyrical inspiration comes from a lot of different sources. Our environment - the post-industrial gloom of Manchester - is a constant source of inspiration, films, conversations, dreams, folklore and mythology, writers like William Blake, Arthur Machen and Robert Macfarlane are all points of reference for the new record. As important as the lyrics are, the vocal delivery and phrasing is just as important. I’ll always favour a lyric that sounds good amongst the music rather than trying to shoehorn in something that reads well but doesn’t necessarily fit the structure.
6. Final question: does the band have any specific goals in mind (besides world domination)?
Right from the start the goal has only ever been to write the kind of music that we’re proud of and would want to listen to. Any praise or tours that come along with that are obviously a bonus but the main thing is that we continue to be excited by what we’re doing.
- Wouter de Moor
Looking for the sounds that seek the mystery in the mundane. Wandering around where an unknown master of the senses, far away from everyday worries, pulls the strings. Music for those who are not satisfied with this world, who want to cross over to that area beyond consciousness where fear and desire can roam free. The art that takes you away from the all too crushing normality of things comes in many forms, and heavy metal is one of them. Of all the styles in metal, black metal is probably the most romantic one, and the sub-genre that is already so generous with great releases, once again delivers a marvel of a record.
Their first record was one of scorching and intoxicating black metal. On their second record they sharpened their riffs to more punchy songs and now there is a third record, BURN IN MANY MIRRORS, with which WODE expands their sound further. BURN IN MANY MIRRORS is a black metal record with a death metal flavour that also feeds on classical metal (Judas Priest, New Wave of British Heavy Metal etc.) and is not unaffected by the atmosphere-enhancing sound-expansions of prog rock (we will continue to call the music, in a genre that seems to create a new sub-genre with the release of every new record, Black Metal).
By adding extra layers to their sound, WODE has taken another step forward, stretching the boundaries of black metal (the genre that possesses hallucinatory qualities like few others) and pushing themselves to further explore a musical landscape in which demonic realms and punkish energy refresh the mind, and blow the inertia that thrives so well in Covid times out of the window. (Introverts thrive with Metal. And Metal thrives in lockdown it seems, if you look at the many, good releases of last year.)
The pandemic threw sand in the machine of a lot of things a year ago and WODE have used the extra time Covid created in their agenda to give some extra attention to the synth parts for their new album. It's very nice to see the prog rock influences adding to the atmosphere and substance of WODE's black metal without sacrificing the all-encompassing, hallucinatory power with which the black metal of their debut impressed so much. The synth parts form an organic whole with the undead glory of guitar parts that sail like surf riffs on distortion over pitch-black waves. Michael Czerwoniuk's vocals are like the scream of an obscure, half forgotten god who, together with the instrumentarium, paints a multicoloured greyish sound spectrum in which the melody is interwoven throughout the music. In full awareness that life can only be captured and understood with poetic dedication, one embarks on a quest with musical means that leads to a place where the boundary between dream and reality fades away. With songs that engrave themselves in memory, one crosses over to that part of the mind where, free from gravity and time, liberation and redemption can be found. The infinite journey to liberation, starting point for so much beautiful art, is evocatively started here with Lunar Madness, a howling at the moon in which the intro establishes a perfect, organic connection with the all-crushing madness that follows, an incredible album opener. WODE does not waste any time after that, intros are atmospheric but do not detain (a small reservation can be made for the intro of the album closing track Streams Of Rapture that lasts almost 2 minutes) and rounds off BURN IN MANY MIRRORS in about 40 minutes (the playing time of a vinyl record, an invitation to put it on repeat).
BURN IN MANY MIRRORS extracts a theatre of the mind from a swamp of dark sounds, a realm of images brewed by sulphur vapours in which the delirium tremens of blackened metal casts its own intoxicated gaze at the world. You can face life with renewed energy when the 40 minutes of BURN IN MANY MIRRORS are over. A record with which WODE, with a demonic sense of decorum, settles down in the vanguard of the present-day metal scene.
M. Czerwoniuk - Vocals, Guitar, Synth & Keys
D. Shaw - Guitar & Backing Vocals
T. Horrocks - Drums, Guitar, Synth & Keys
E. Troup - Bass Guitar
- Wouter de Moor
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