Imprisoned in the frozen reaches of far eastern Russia for an unsteadily applied sentence, poet and Marxist journalist Varlam Šalamov would spend roughly a quarter of his life in gulags, internment camps that’d never fully trampled his defiant spirit until roughly age 36, when he’d fallen ill with typhus and nearly died. Essentially a hobbled human corpse by age 40 it’d take the empathy of a doctor, who was also an inmate, to lift him out of physical and mental collapse and spur him on through his sentence. Russia’s transition from Empire to Republic disintegrated his health along with countless others but when finally freed he’d spent two decades writing essays, poems and short stories that’d soon be considered classics and inspiration for those living under the oft dehumanizing rule of corrupt governments and their especially cruel treatment of dissent. Šalamov’s six volume set of short stories from his time imprisoned, Kolyma Tales, is his masterpiece and his depictions of forced labor camps are the major inspiration for Chomutov, Czechia-based extreme metal band OČI VLKA‘s first demo, plainly titled ‘Demo’, a half hour blackened storm meant to reflect upon and unify the sensation of being ‘alone’ in a crowd (or, crowded unthinking civilization) with that of peaceful isolation in the great wilderness of the Ore mountains.
Intuitive in motion and unconcerned with the hard lines drawn between black, death and doom metal Oči Vlka‘s modus is intentionally born from the duo’s need to express the duality of their environs:
“On the one hand, there’s deep woods, valleys and lost and forgotten places in mountains which brings you unique atmosphere and give you possibility how to escape from everyday’s life and on the other hand there’s a city full of frustration, social problems, lost existences, criminality etc. where is not possible to expect a better tomorrow.”
From these extremes comes a marriage of embattled presence on ‘Demo’ embodying and expressing the existential pairing of “…these two worlds where atmosphere of the nature meets atmosphere of a city.” This tornado of stress, hopelessness and beauty so grand one would feel insignificant in it most definitely results in music finely suited for some of the fever-dreaming verve of Šalamov‘s poetry, used as lyrics where gently applied surrealism creeps into very real and often horrendously tragic inhumanity. Suitable themes for fellowes with ties to revolution-minded late 90’s European hardcore punk, sludge metal, and modern black metal bands, separately and together, over the years. They’d finally decide to collaborate on this “wolven eyed” project in 2018 and to stunning results. Comparisons won’t do in this case but, if you’ve interest in ‘epic’ black/death metal that is both soulful and damning at once then I’ve prattled on long enough, please enjoy an early stream of ‘Demo’ (out July 15th) thanks to Caligari Records:
[Pre-Order ‘Demo’ on Caligari Records’ Bandcamp]
Full Press Release:
CALIGARI RECORDS is proud to present OČI VLKA’s striking debut demo, simply titled Demo, on cassette tape formats.
OČI VLKA (translated to English: “Eyes of Wolf”) is a two-piece band formed in 2018 in the city called Chomutov, which is located in the Ore mountains in Czech Republic. This area is well-known for eternal winters and for a bloody history after the Second World War.
In the 2000s, both future members of OČI VLKA played together in a local hardcore / metal band called Darkearth (or xDARKEARTHx), which was influenced by Belgium’s H8000 scene as well as bands released by Alveran Records back then. When Darkearth broke up, each member went his own way, but nobody ever stops to destroy his instruments. Later on, the drummer was active in short-lived local black metal bands, Urort and Damned of Light, and the bass player was active in some local hardcore / fastcore bands and later on in the sludge/doom band V Rukou Ousudu and the black metal band Lichens, where he played guitar.
In 2018, both ex-members of Darkearth met up again, and after some discussion, they decided to meet each other in the rehearsal room. After a few jam sessions, they started to write songs and found this to be a good way to survive in Chomutov. The project became more serious, which led them to give this project a name: OČI VLKA, as they wanted a name connected to the area in which they live.
As OČI VLKA, then, the band’s primary inspiration is their environment, because it offers two different worlds. On the one hand, there’s deep woods and mountains which offer an awesome and unique atmosphere and where it’s possible to relax, rest, find inspiration, do whatever you want, hanging out for hours and meet nobody, discover new places, etc – and on the other hand, there is a city full of frustration, social problems, criminality, lost existences, etc. By creating music, they’re able to escape their everyday lives, realize ourselves, meet people with common interests, discover new places, play gigs with cool bands, and so on.
OČI VLKA state that they don’t have any musical inspirations – “We listen tons of stuff, and this stuff primarily depends on our mood” – but one can certainly detect traces of black metal, death metal, doom, and grind of various stylistic strands each. What results is an utterly ugly smokestack of dread, darkness, and scorched-earth emotion. The physicality is palpable, and leaden with a heft that betrays the band’s two-person membership; in fact, OČI VLKA‘s swarming attack would be irrevocably overwhelming if not for the fact that the duo’s songwriting patiently plays itself out, establishing mood just as handily as metallic might, and altogether creates a sensation of hovering hypnosis…all before the reality hits you, HARD, and drags you down to the abyss.
No Facebook, no Bandcamp, no other profiles, nothing: just immerse yourself in the infinitely inky depths of OČI VLKA‘s first demo!
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