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Wolves Den's Helge Stang: "I just wonder, why people in the 21st century behave exactly the same as in previous centuries: looking for a culprit and belief every single piece of shit that swims by. “Somebody must be responsible!”"

Interview with Helge Stang from Wolves Den
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 24 May 2020, 10:19 PM

Just keeping it simple, low key, waiting for the heat wave to be over with in order to get back to slaying and doing one's best abilities at displaying powerful material right at the face of every fan that wants to experience an awesome show. It is understandable that some of the new motifs, or trends, since the Pandemic, have been found distasteful for the old school majority, especially those that give a damn about a good live, energetic show, with an audience that is actually there. However, time demands a little change, at least for now. With the coming new Wolves Den release, "Miserere", Steinmetal had a good chat with vocalist, Helge Stang, about the new album, and its music, a little past trip, covid-19 stuff and more…

Greetings Helge, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. I trust that you feel somewhat optimistic with things slowly settling down with pandemic. How have you been doing?

Hi there! Well, you know: every 7th year you are lucky: 2020 was my turn as I left down-town Munich behind and moved to the countryside (cows, swamps, woods). So the answer is short: good! I haven't been hit by the starting recession (yet), the weather was fine, and I have lots of things to do here.

Last time that I heard of you was actually back in the time you fronted the Israeli Arafel and of course your prior major act, Equilibrium. I assume that Arafel isn’t coming back any time soon right? Especially when you have Wolves Den as your main act. Are you still in contact with some of the Arafel members?

I would say, that Arafel is in some sort of hibernation. The truth is, that the distance is long. Especially for a more or less fresh band; you can't just play a spontaneous show next weekend. Book your flights half a year in advance or you'll pay 3x the fee – on top. I've been down in the unholy land a few years ago, classic vacation. But things turned quiet recently – hibernation…

This Covid-19 pandemic truly took its toll on everything, nearly everywhere worldwide there had been an outbreak. Now, everyone is starting to fear a second wave that might come and wash us over in the upcoming Winter. What is your viewpoint on this situation? Is it a conspiracy, perhaps a sort of a planned act to wreak havoc economically worldwide?

No, it is not. I am neither a scientist nor a politician or somewhat, I just went to school. And even if I spent a good time there sleeping it was enough to understand what is now going on. It is a virus (not even an evil one) and it does exactly, what it is supposed to do: spread. End of the story. I just wonder, why people in the 21st century behave exactly the same as in previous centuries: looking for a culprit and belief every single piece of shit that swims by. “Somebody must be responsible!” Fun fact: that is somehow true, and the answer is: we all. If I really have to spend my vacation in Israel or on the other side of the world (I have been on markets in China, mentioned in the corona-origin-discussion myself), then I am as guilty as a lot of other people. The difference is: I don't blame now the Chinese, Jews, Bill Gates or whomever.

With five years passing since your debut album, “Deus Vult”, Wolves Den returns with a sophomore “Miserere” and this time even signed to Trollzorn Records. What made you sign after going independent on the debut album? Can I only guess that you wanted to focus more on music rather on doing the whole behind the curtain business that is album release related?

Yes, you are right. I spent now a lot of years in this metal-band-cosmos and I can tell you: things became much harder. As you can record, release and promote an album with your cellphone (!) nowadays, we all are drowning in a flood of good, bad and boring sound. And all the things that worked yesterday are nowadays worth a shit. Meanwhile I (and the rest of the band), we feel somehow like dinosaurs. Look at me: I don't even have Facebook, and recently I had to ask my boss, what this Twitter thing is. Seriously! Of course I heard of this, but it was just not of interest for me. Now I “know” the details and can confirm: I rather dig a hole in my garden than waste my lifetime on another social media shit.

But back to the “Pro-Trollzorn-Decision”: we wanted a partner, that can help us to promote this album. It seems to work somehow – or would we talk now without Trollzorn (and the machinery behind … hello Jan!)

I have to admit that the album’s title is quite intriguing, “Miserere”, translated from Latin is “Mercy”. At first, without checking, I thought it was Misery. It sounds kind of delicate and pretty much an opposite to what the album’s music stands for. Can you shed some light over the chosen title? What is this source of mercifulness?

“Mercy” is just one part of the truth. In older times it was the translation for an interesting disease (“Gott Erbarme Dich” - God show mercy). That disease was way more spectacular as Corona: you start to vomit your own shit. Ha! Where is your mercifulness now!?

Other than circling the Mercy element, how do you connect yourself to the album’s philosophical direction? How are these themes on display related to the reality that we are facing in your perspective?

“There is no mercy! There is only shit and grief and anger.” That is the message. Or, to quote my own lyrics (hehe): “There is no hope in fire / there is no cleansing pyre / there is no pure desire / and there is no relief”. These are the first lines on the album. Although the writing and recording is now quite a while ago, it is fully up-to-date I think.

Finding the thin line between Black and Death Metal, Wolves Den has been down and dirty, putrid with its composing, yet within “Miserere” I could also find elegance in a fine measure. In comparison to your debut, what have you learned in the past five years when it comes to your musical development and how did this progress come to pass within “Miserere”?

First, I take this as a compliment. As mentioned before, the album is now ready for… ääh … 1 ½ years. Plus, recording, that means I correct your question to “2 ½ years after the first album”. I think “Miserere” is a bit more focused. Where “Deus Vult” was quite a mix of songs and styles, the second album is now more precise, heading in one direction. Songwriting, recording - we changed this and that for our second strike. More using our personal strengths instead of sharing everything equal.

Which elements within “Miserere” are the album’s strong suits in your view? What makes “Miserere” an uncanny album in comparison to the sea of extreme fusion related Metal albums?

Ah, “the flood”, I know what you are talking about, hehe. You know, I cannot answer you this question. My part was to create (or: work on) a great album – the judgment is another one's turn. We just did, what we want to do: play hard music, create good songs and sounds. Share our point of view. Grab you by the balls.

To be honest – I don't see any fusion on “Miserere”; when it comes to influences, we always mention our old beloved classics: Satyricon, Dissection, Mayhem or maybe Rotting Christ. Do they do “fusion”. Okay, maybe Rotting Christ … but, hey, they're from Greece. That's okay.

Unlike the debut album, you included within the album an opener and a closer that are in English. What was the change of heart to write songs in English? Did it come natural or was it actually fans’ demand that you come up with English sung material?

Haha, yeah, still waiting for the day some fan shows up, “demands” a song and I obey. Please, next time: ask me the same question. If I answer it with “yes, somebody wanted that” - kill me! Starting with the last song, “Nameless Grave”, that is a tribute to Aleister Crowley. Based on his poem “The Poet” the English language was set. And the first song, “Tides of Hate”, well, things have been different here: I didn't plan to write in English, but the lines I quoted above where just the first thing, that popped into my mind when I heard that song for the first time. Then I thought: why not? As you may have noticed by now: English is not my mother tongue. But fuck it, why not. Maybe next time I try Swahili or so.

“Häresie” is one of the album’s faces that made me rattle in my seat. Surely the album’s heaviest and mightiest in its brutal approach. Certainly this one is for a fast and slow kind of moshing. What is your appreciation of this song? How do you find the songwriting of this number and source of its creation?

People really seem to like that song! That is good. For me personally it was quite a torture, the last part was stealing my breath, haha! A waterfall of words… The research for the audio samples in the middle, that is also worth mentioning: I spend hours in front of torture movies, witch burnings and – of course – the audio recordings of Annelieses exorcism. But the quote was worth the effort. “Häresie” (heresy), is a reflection of the how-to-treat-others-approach of the Catholic Church. I think the mood of the song and the idea, theme behind it now really fit together.

On the other hand, you have the early Paradise Lost meets Dissection “Nachtmahr”, which to me emphasises grief, gloominess and utter sorrow. Its strong melodic elements are simply amazing. What influenced you while writing this song? It feels personal for some reason.

Ah, the second song everyone does mention! This time it was no personal motive behind it. It is about the conflict of two once close figures. A few lines to the top I mentioned a few bands that do influence us in general. Probably you'll find an answer there. Although Paradise Lost isn't in that list.

As you hear this song now as it is finished, just imagine how it sounded during writing: we all felt, that this is going to be a good one… goose bumps somehow. And we made it to keep this feeling all the way to the album.

I assume that you had plans to support the album with a tour or a set of shows that were cancelled right? Whether the case or not, the album has to be promoted. For the time being did you make any plans to perhaps live stream a performance or rehearsal in order to properly do a promotion phase for the release?

Under normal circumstances, yes, we would now play our asses off. But in the current situation (which added another few weeks to the release date by the way), our gig list is just one thing: empty. Our drummer, professional musician, as even cancellations for tours next spring: “too risky.” Not talking about this year.  So what can we do? I could start with twitter, haha! But, if I have learned one thing over the years: It comes as it comes. If this album is good, then people will like it, it will prevail, it will be listened to. If not – not.

It sounds maybe lazy but we can't get out of our skin: we are a live band. Not a bunch of social-media-whores. If we cannot do what we are good at – then we wait. I made a video for "Nachtmahr", available on YouTube: you spend hours on something just to drown afterwards in a flood of “hey, I am eating a cake”-pictures. Besides, something like rehearsals is not allowed here at the moment.

There is a slowly evolving phenomenon of live stream festivals. I know that Nordic Noise went streaming and also a hosted festival by Century Media. What is your opinion about that? Do you believe that it is worth the trouble? Will people buy tickets for a live stream show?

Na, not my cup of tea. Where is the audience? How am I supposed to get high without a sweating, screaming crowd? Jerk off on some hearts and ThumbsUp in a chat window? I respect the idea, and the will to do something in the current situation. But I think that it is exactly this: Something. Anything. It does not solve any problems nor will it be an equivalent substitution. Not talking about money, merchandise and all the stuff that one could wrap up in the word “feeling” of a live show.

Aside from the pandemic, what do you think are the band’s main challenges going forward? Do you believe that it will be another five years until your next album or you will do like Grave Digger and come up with an album every year right until the moment it will be possible to perform live again?

He - we didn't do that on purpose: wait 5 years… No, the next album is already in work, songwriting is somewhat 40% done or so. We had time – we have time. At least something good during this pandemic.

Helge, I wish to thank you for this interview. I guess that you guys are anxious to perform live again, and when that will happen, you are going to blast with this album. Cheers mate.

Thank you very much for your time and the interesting questions. I really appreciate that. Har det bra!



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