Having cut their teeth over their 9-year reign (originally starting out as Dwell In Sun) playing countless shows across the UK, and gaining a surprising amount of clout for a band with no discography, Belfast’s premium blackened doom export Owlcrusher have finally unleashed their self-titled debut.
The release has had depressive doom freaks across the world buzzing – with its distinctively deranged vocals, crushing riffs, and wonderfully extensive song lengths. Owlcrusher sees the band stand out against an oversaturated scene with their tight grasp on crushing heaviness.
On the eve of the physical release of Owlcrusher, via Seeing Red records, we caught up with the bird stomping collective to talk black metal, political indifference, and of course, Buckfast.
Why should we give a hoot about Owlcrusher? What is it about Owlcrusher that makes you guys stand out from the pack?
You don’t have to give a hoot about us at all; but if we’re playing anywhere near you, for better or worse you won’t be able to ignore us.
How long have you guys been together as a group?
Under the Owlcrusher name; about four years. Before that, the band was called Dwell In Sun and had a different bass player.
What do you think of the current political strife going on in Northern Ireland?
Where possible, we don’t. The further in the past that shit can be left, the better. No disrespect to the tradition of bands from here in the past who addressed Northern Ireland Politics, but a lot of them existed right in the middle of a pretty tumultuous time, so it made sense for them to reflect that. It was a necessary catharsis for them. That’s not the case so much these days, thankfully. There are still problems here, obviously, but it isn’t as invasive to peoples lives as it was a couple of decades ago
Has the legacy of Northern Ireland’s tumultuous political history had an influence on Owlcrusher at all?
No. We come from different backgrounds, the three of us; I met Andy when we were kids and both went to an integrated Primary school, and he and Damo, in turn, met at an Integrated High school, so we didn’t really have a dog in the fight so to speak.
These days our attitude towards the arguments that exist here range from “That’s not important to me” to “That’s a stupid thing to be worked up about in the first place”. I think we can all agree that being governed by creationists and fringe religious nuts is a bit embarrassing though.
How come Owls hold such a fond place in the collective hearts of Owlcrusher?
Well, first of all, thanks for not accusing us of hating them, which everybody seems to assume ‘cos of the name. That’s actually a reference to the Cremation Of Care ritual which conspiracy-minded folks believe takes place at Bohemian Grove; where they apparently hold a bonfire in front of a statue of an Owl God called Moloch.
What is your favourite black metal release of all time?
Personally, I’d have to say In the Nightside Eclipse by Emperor or Total Fucking Necro by Anaal Nathrakh, but it would be different for each of us. I know Andy listens to a lot of Burzum and Darkthrone, and has a lot of time for Mayhem‘s Ordo ad Chao.
Your music and the aesthetic behind it has an esoteric bent, what is your belief system regarding the universe? What are your opinions on Christianity?
I don’t think we have a unifying belief in any way that would be enough to form an ethos for the band. Subject matter is subject matter but I think that the only thing we have a consensus on is that religion is something that can be misused very easily. Having a spiritual side is up to the individual, but as soon as you try to make your belief system someone else’s problem, or start using it as a rod to hit people with, you’ve lost.
How come it took so long for your debut to come about?
Well, there were a couple of lineup changes along the way, and obviously, anytime that happens new members take time to acclimatize and make the songs, even ones that are already pretty much written, their own. Between that and life having a way of hamstringing your best-laid plans, it builds up. Sometimes to the point of absurdity.
What’s your favourite brand of booze? Spirits or Ales?
Well, we all like Whiskey; but Buckfast Wine can be difficult to escape and can cause madness in men. Hard to believe it was men of the cloth who decided that adding caffeine to alcohol would end well…
What influences outside of doom and death metal are present in your music?
Quite a lot I think, considering we listen to a fairly wide range of things, a lot of which aren’t even close to doom or death metal. How much of it you’ll hear on the album I don’t know. In that respect, it’s more interesting to hear from other people what they’ve picked up on. For example, we’ve had people point out similarities with Godflesh and Killing Joke, both of whom we like, but the black metal comparisons were a bit of a surprise at first, although given the type of vocals we use, it should have been a no-brainer.
What have you got planned for the rest of 2017?
Well first and foremost will be the physical release of the album, which is being prepared at the minute. Depending on how well that goes, there’ll hopefully be a vinyl release at some point too and some shows. We’re looking into getting a mini tour organised for early next year in the UK, but that’s still in the planning stages.
Owlcrusher is out now, purchase it here. Keep your eyes on Seeing Red’s socials for the physical release.