Black metal! From Houston? Meet Brimwylf
The Metal Pigeon resides (roosts?!) in Houston, and has been here for a long, long time. Long enough as a metal fan to realize that the quality of our local metal bands is uneven at best (quantity has never been a problem, not in a city of five million). There are definitely quite a few examples of real excellence, however they are followed by a horde of average to mediocre traditional death metal, metalcore, industrial metal, and alt metal bands. Its interesting to note that Houston’s metal loving contingent seems to skew very heavily towards traditional death metal, and DM-inspired offshoots (the other alternative being Pantera-inspired offshoots and that’s just tiring at this point). There’s nothing wrong with the idea of local death metal, the problem is that a lot of these bands just tend to blend into one another, at least to my ears.
Sadly neglected in Houston is both power metal and black metal. Odd that the latter is so shunted in this city, especially when it seems to be catching on like wildfire across the States as of late. Of course it may not be that difficult to work out: black metal’s frosty northern roots are worlds apart from the scorching, humidity fueled swamp that is H-town (though you’d figure that sulking metalheads in the dead summer heat would want to hear about the icy climes of Blashyrkh, but nevermind). Black metal has been sorely underrepresented in this city and I think in many ways that has contributed to the stagnation of the local scene as a whole.
The guys in the recently formed Brimwylf however aim to remedy this deficit in the Houston metal scene by firing out blasts of grim Norwegian inspired black metal. Formed in the summer of 2011, Brimwylf have made some amazingly rapid strides towards making themselves known not only in Houston, but in the newly stirring American black metal scene in general through the upcoming release of their debut EP. The Metal Pigeon has had the opportunity to get a sneak preview, and be relieved! There are no shoegaze influences, hipster tendencies, nor nonsense spewing ideologies or manifestos to be found here; just raw, aggressive, razor sharp, relentless black metal fury. And they’re only getting started. The Metal Pigeon speaks with two members of the four-piece band: Brimwylf’s vocalist, Jon Self, and guitarist, Jason Allan.
The Metal Pigeon: You recently completed a recording of five songs, are you going to release them fairly soon? And do you have a title and a target for a release date?
Jon Self: Yes we have plans to release an EP through the Dread Lair. The title for the EP is, Under the Sign of the Tridents.
Jason Allan: It will be released hopefully January or February of 2012.
The Metal Pigeon: Could you elaborate a bit on your band name, where it is taken or inspired from?
Jon Self: Brimwylf is taken from the poem Beowulf. Brimwylf is old English for water wolf, and they are the haunters and guardians of a burial mound in the marshlands.
The Metal Pigeon: As the lyricist in an American black metal band, where do you cull the inspiration for your lyrics? Do feel any need to purposefully avoid invoking topics found in the lyrics of Norwegian black metal bands?
Jon Self: My lyrics are metaphors for struggles or experiences that I translate into myths or stories. I don’t purposefully avoid any topic. If it’s relevant I’ll use it.
The Metal Pigeon: What are your musical influences? Are there any specific bands that have most greatly impacted the direction of your sound?
Jason Allan: Definitely. We all grew up with so many different influences, but we also have a lot of similar musical backgrounds. Everything from punk and metal. But for this band I think the idea all stems from listening to bands like Darkthrone, Taake, Satyricon, etc., you know really gritty, dark, almost punk-style black metal. Nothing too technical. So I would say those bands have had a big influence in our direction. But we are Brimwylf. We are not going to restrict ourselves from writing music we feel because it’s not black or evil enough. We are the ones in control of our music and lyrics.
The Metal Pigeon: Being an American black metal band, do you feel extra pressure to have to carve out a unique identity or are you happy to wear your influences on your sleeve?
Jason Allan: No pressure. I think if we worried too much about being an American black metal band, with our style being similar to European black metal bands — we would just be focusing too much on trying to emulate those bands. We know where our roots are and we are very proud of them. But the Brimwylf sound has to come from all four of us and all of our different creativity. It’s almost impossible to be original. If someone listens to us and thinks, hey fucking Bathory, we are honored you know. But hopefully they recognize this is Brimwylf.
The Metal Pigeon: How can you describe your sound to someone who is already well versed in extreme/black metal?
Jason Allan: It’s raw and filled with a lot of emotion. No song sounds the same. To us that is very important. Each song has its own story, but it all goes together very smoothly. Its dark, aggressive, melodic and speaks for itself.
The Metal Pigeon: When do you expect to be playing live?
Jason Allan: You know it’s not a huge concern right now. We don’t want to rush anything. So far all we’re focused on is our music. Making sure we are happy with all the songs so far. Our main focus now is having the EP finished and getting it out to fans of metal. We are very grateful that Dread Lair has shown interest and offered to help distribute the EP and promote us. I think once that is rolling we will want to start thinking about playing live.