es États-Unis détiennent une remarquable scène Black Metal, vivante et diversifiée. En plus des vétérans tels que Judas Iscariot ou Absu, plusieurs autres groupes parviennent désormais à se tailler une place dans un univers jusque-là nettement dominé par les Européens. Je vous propose donc aujourd’hui entretien très intéressant avec Ryan Lipynsky, co-leader de la formation The Howling Wind et autrefois membre de Thralldom. Nous y discutons du nouvel album, mais il partage également ses réflexions quant au Black Metal actuel et les tendances existantes dans son pays.
Métal Obscur. First, I would like to thank you for accepting this interview. The Howling Wind exists since 2007, but underwent a rather complex genesis, succeeding to other projects (including Thralldom). Could you tell us how you created this band? What were your intentions back then?
Ryan Lipynsky. I first started out playing my form of black metal with the project Thralldom. Thralldom existed for many years and our sound transformed and morphed rather quickly though out a few albums and 7”s. My intentions were to create a new band after attempting to follow up Thralldom, who broke up in 2006, with a solo project called Drifting Collision. I played all instruments on the Drifting Collision demo and realized I couldn’t play the drums well enough to achieve what my vision was. I wanted to create a mixture of different tempos and I had no ability to play fast drums. So I got in touch with Tim from Parasitic Records to play drums as he was a long-time ally and a very similar like-minded individual. The idea was to have a clean slate and create something new and that wasn’t as “far out there” and as experimental as the final album [“A Shaman Steering the Vessel of Vastness”], yet something that maintained and continued the blacked occult essence of Thralldom. We wanted to start with some pure riff based Blackend Metal with death and doom influences for the first The Howling Wind album “Pestilence and Peril”. I basically consider that our demo as it was the first recording or playing of any type we did together as a duo.
MO. Both members of The Howling Wind are experienced and talented musicians, but are living far from each other (Portland, OR and New York). Is distance a problem? How do you deal with it?
R. Lipynsky. The distance is what I look at as a challenge rather than a problem. It has forced us to create music in a way that is unorthodox yet makes us better players in the end. This is the only band I’ve ever been in where 90% of the music is created with drum parts first. What happens is Tim comes up with drums for a few songs and then sends those skeletons to me. Then I’ll play guitar to those parts and come up with riffs to go along and we’ll do that a process a few times until we come up with something we are content with. It takes a lot of communication of ideas and trust in the others playing. It’s a very intuitive process. If we didn’t have confidence with what each of us could do, it wouldn’t work at all. But by this point we have really refined our approach and it’s working out really well for us. The first album we recorded separately and the last two albums we recorded together at the studio [The Thousand Caves] in NY. Those times we recorded the albums were the first time we ever played the songs together, so the demoing process is crucial for us. We must have our “homework” done and ready to destroy. There is no fucking around when it comes to recording the albums for us.
MO. You just released your third album called Of Babalon (2012), which reminds me a lot of Hellhammer / Celtic Frost’s classic records, but with a modern perspective. Could you describe for us its creation process? Who was involved in each step?
R. Lipynsky. We spent a long time coming up with songs and demoing them in 3 stages. Each stage of the process we narrowed the songs down to the ones that worked best with each other. I think the Hellhammer/Frost feel is something that is very much a massive influence for us and we make no qualms about letting that flag fly high and proud. [We covered Horus/Agressor as a bonus track at the end of the Album!] The idea that we have a modern take on it is exactly how we view it and we work in many other influences to construct our style. The idea of a powerful and moving riff combined with the perfect drum beat is what we aim for. We are very much focused on song writing and perfecting our craft. We recorded the album with Colin Marston at The Thousand Caves in Queens NY. Tim flew to NY for 10 days and we basically locked ourselves up in the studio and that is what you hear! Colin is a great engineer and extremely knowledgeable and is a great asset to our band. He really brings out the best in our songs and sound in my opinion.
MO. Your prior record, Into the Cryosphere (2010) had a really cold and dark atmosphere, while Of Babalon is more raw and punchy. What were your artistic influences for both albums? How would you compare them?
R. Lipynsky. I think the way you describe the difference is exactly correct.” Into The Cryosphere” was an album that was singularly focused on the idea of the isolation of Antarctica. It was a way of separating ourselves from the typical black metal mindset and having a way to focus on a specific feeling of coldness. During that album we were trapped in the studio in a blizzard for a few days. It was a perfect atmosphere and I think that album reflects it! We wanted “Of Babalon” to have more fire and aggression. I think the songs we wrote reflect that and we certainly want each album to stand on its own and contrast our other material. I think there are similar aspects to each album but “Of Bablon” is much faster and more ferocious where “Into The Cryosphere” has a more moodier and atmospheric feel in contrast. I like both albums quite a bit. This new album also features Tim on vocals as well in certain parts, so it’s a more developed sound for us in the end.
MO. I didn’t have access to the lyrics, but I know they are an important component of your art. What themes inspire you the most? What are you trying to express with them?
R. Lipynsky. “Of Babalon” is a concept album about the Thelema concept of The Scarlet Woman aka the Holy Mother of Abominations. There are many ways the theme can be expressed and understood and the point was perhaps to make the listener curious and seek out more information. Perhaps it would even tempt them to read a book!! Haha Basically I kept the lyrics unprinted as much of them are sourced from old texts or at least inspired by them. It was meant to have a bit of mystery with the listener as they can be consumed by the music yet be intrigued by the mystery cult feel of the theme. The original idea of this concept was first touched upon on the obscure Thralldom 7” EP “The Seven Heads Of The Lion Serpent”. The 156 current…
MO. As far as I know, The Howling Wind never performed live. Is it something you are considering? Would you prefer touring or participating to special events, like festivals?
R. Lipynsky. We have absolutely no plans to ever play live at this point. Our albums are a way to not deal with that. There are multiple guitar parts and bass parts that I play. So we would have to recruit live session members and it’s something I have no interest in doing. I think there is a certain freedom in not performing live and not playing to peoples expectations. I prefer peoples experience with our music be in a solitary setting without lots of humans around. We may change our minds one day down the line but I very much doubt that. The only way to experience The Howling Wind is on record.
MO. New York City doesn’t spontaneously come to mind when thinking about Black Metal. How is it being a Black Metal musician in such a big city? Is there a local vivid scene?
R. Lipynsky. I agree NY is not a city most people who think of as a Black Metal city and I don’t think it is. When I first started playing in the Thralldom Black Metal was still a relatively underground and unknown art form. Now it is widely exposed and has become something that the younger generation regards as just another form of metal. I don’t agree. Having said that, I don’t really consider myself a Black Metal musician but rather an underground guitarist and vocalist. I’ve played in many bands that were doom metal, thrash, experimental noise, punk etc… I think when I do The Howling Wind it is a representation of mine and Tim’s devotion to a certain form of music that was forged by bands like Bathory and early Celtic Frost. The local scene is no concern to me and over time I’ve really limited my exposure to live shows in general and the humans that frequent them. Isolation is a key factor for me in this band especially. We are not influenced by regional scene happenings and that’s always the way it will be for me.
MO. Hard not to ask you about the so-called American “hipster” Black Metal trend that is currently growing in popularity. What do you think of this movement and its foremost bands, like Liturgy or Wolves in the Throne Room?
R. Lipynsky. Haha No interest in those bands. I think the people that latch on to this kind of watered down black metal don’t have a real connection to the essence of blackness. “Hipster” black metal is shallow and the people who create it will probably be onto the next trend in a few years time or less. If they didn’t use the term Black Metal they would be better off but since they do, they are the targets for much ridicule and scorn. I don’t waste my time even thinking about any of that nonsense. I have limited exposure to any of it and the only thing its good for is a good laugh. However I will say Kralice is a band that gets unfairly mentioned among bands like that. I think Colin is an incredible musician and deserves respect and those guys have extensive metal knowledge and experience. They are no posers.
MO. On a broader perspective, what is your opinion on Black Metal, its evolution since the 1990s, in Europe and America?
R. Lipynsky. I am a huge fan of Black Metal from the 90’s and it influenced much of what I do. I was hugely addicted to man Norwegian and Swedish bands back then for sure. I can remember in the 90’s, one could count the number of USBM bands on your fingers. Nowadays you could mention a band like Judas Iscariot, for instance, to “modern” USBM people and they might not have any idea who you are speaking of. J.I. weren’t my favorite band by any means but they deserve a mention as they were one of the first USBM bands to adapt that European style of BM way before it was cool or trendy. One band that I am a huge fan of is Profanatica. One of the best US Black Metal bands to have ever existed in America, Black Metal was more obscure in the 90s and in a way it held more value. But I could just becoming a nostalgic old man. Haha. With the advent of the internet things have become homogenized and less magical. There is no denying that to the souls who have seen the things change over the years.
MO. With a new album out, what’s next? Are you already working on new material? Any other project you wish to tell us about?
R. Lipynsky. We have begun demoing some ideas for a new tape that will come out on Parasitic Records. It will probably be a self recorded with a more raw sound. Our first album “Pestilence & Peril” will be released soon on Parasitic Records and “Of Babalon” will be released on vinyl on Parasitic as well in the future. Beyond that we will just begin to compile new songs that we will demo and refine for our future 4th album. All in good time of course…
MO. Thank you very much for your time!
R. Lipynsky. Hails to you! Thanks for the interest!