Friday, May 27, 2011

Justin Ciucevich - Interview - Vulkodlak

Good evening, and welcome to my newest interview. Vulkodlak is a black metal outfit hailing from non other than Birmingham, Alabama. I reviewed the demo they put out recently and I must say these guys. "While they are America, and USBM normally fails" they have a bright future ahead of them. 

Vulkodlak plays with a true Scandinavian spirit and I confess I am looking forward to future releases from this band. 

Check them out on Facebook and tell em Shawn sent ya! 
Click here to be redirected to Facebook
Also check them out on Reverbnation to hear some of the tracks from the demo
Click here for the music!

Shawn: Good evening, and thanks for taking the time to sit down for this interview. How's Birmingham after all that Tornado shite that happened the other week?

Justin: Thanks for having me sir. There are definitely some parts that are still decimated and will not be rebuilt for quite awhile. Definitely a tragedy, many lives lost or ruined

Shawn: Black Metal isn't a very popular Sub-Genre of metal over here in America. So what got you started into Black Metal?

Justin: Venom!!!!!! That was my first exposure to the genre whether you actually consider them that or not. I was a youngen, maybe 13, and I always saw the guys in Metallica and Slayer wearing these imposing, Baphomet-ridden shirts of this band called Venom. So in my early quest to find the most evil, brutal, fastest, nastiest, offensive, etc. I decided to check them out. I think I first bought a Best Of called In Memorium at a Best Buy in either Athens or Savannah, GA. I guess my first exposure to 2nd wave stuff was when I got big into the Metal Blade bands. I bought the Deathmeister compilation which had bands like Ancient, Dark Funeral, Hecate Enthroned....stuff like that.

Shawn: You recently released your first demo, which I reviewed. So what's next for the band? Maybe a full length album in the near future? 

Justin: No recording plans for the immediate future. We've certainly got the material for a full-length but for now we're more concerned with playing new places around the country (world?) and spreading the demo around.

Shawn: Tell us a bit about the name, Vulkodlak. What does it mean? and how did you get the idea to use it as the band's name. 

Justin: Vulkodlak is a Serbo-Croatian variation on an ancient Slavic word for werewolf, or in some instances vampire. I found myself becoming increasingly interested with the mythology and folklore of my own people, as I am of Croatian descent. That's primarily what this band deals with is Slavic folklore, mythology, and history. It's a lot more interesting to me now than some other European mythologies simply for the fact that it hasn't been explored as much, especially in black metal. Everybody who listens to black metal with any amount of fervor is going to at least have a base knowledge of Norse mythology because of the huge impact the Scandinavian bands have had on the scene. I figure this way, I'm at least giving them something a little different. Although we certainly aren't the first black metal band to explore the more general elements of Slavic lore such as say....vampires or Vlad Tepes or Countess Bathory but nonetheless we like to dig deeper into the regions' lore in addition to covering those subjects

Shawn: Tell us a bit of the history behind the band. How did you get started? And how pleased are you with the current lineup? 

Justin: Vulkodlak was originally a side-project formed in June of 2010 by myself, Bobby Ungerbuehler, and Ben Sperling. At the time we were in a band called Ardurous playing an eclectic mix of extreme genres, everything from groove to thrash, melodic-death to deathcore. I just thought it might be fun to try something different, a tad more orthodox i guess, and just start an old school black metal band. I do pretty much all the writing in the band so it eventually started taking up all my "musical" time and my heart just wasn't in Ardurous anymore so i decided to stick with Vulkodlak full-time. Ben and Bobby are still proud members of Ardurous, as they should be......killer band for sure. I'm very pleased with the current line-up, we are brothers from the start and all of us bring something different to the table without taking anything away, I wouldn't change a thing.

Shawn: Your self titled demo truly has a Scandinavian spirit, hard to believe it's actually USBM. So what would you say are some of your biggest influences in Black Metal? 

Justin: Well I would say with very little apprehension, that Immortal is my favorite band...period. My vocal style is very influenced by Abbath. I do have to give current Ardurous frontman Pat Price credit for helping me develop a natural, non-harmful, "correct" way of singing, he taught me vocal tracks i hope i never stop doing. The Scandinavian stuff is what truly got me into black metal to the degree i am now. When I first heard Transylvanian Hunger, I was hooked. I understood what it was doing regardless of the quality. They achieved atmosphere!!! And that is key in black metal. Euronymous could do it, Varg could do it, Demonaz could do it, Lord Ahriman, Jon Nodtveidt, Satyr, etc. They all knew how to do it right. I think the first time this was truly captured was on Bathory's "Under the Sign of the Black Mark".....that shit has the most mood of perhaps any black metal album since. I'm also highly influenced by the less recognized Slavic bands such as Root, Tormentor, and Graveland as well as by the French bands like Mutiilation, Vlad Tepes, and Torgeist. So much variety black metal has to offer.

Shawn: You're going to be playing the Dirty South fest this coming July with Goatwhore. How are the preparations going for that? And any other news for upcoming gigs you'd like to share? 

Justin: We are certainly looking forward to the Deathfest. It's truly probably the biggest metal event to come to Birmingham....at least in a very long time. A lot is going to go into it for sure, just on our end alone, not counting all the stuff going into the show as a whole. We already have the set planned out and to call it blistering would be a grave understatement!!!

Shawn: Rites of the Equinox, was by far my favorite track off the demo. This track could have totally fit in on a classic Immortal album. But with the other tracks on the demo the sounds and styles change quite frequently. Was this something you planned? Or did it simply happen during the writing process? It's nice to see a new band that's not a one trick pony. 

Justin: That really means alot coming from someone knowledgeable on black metal as you are. I really wanted to give it a pagan feel, so on that song it was definitely planned. I can't escape my roots man, 80's thrash metal was my first real love in the world extreme metal. Slayer was my first favorite band and stayed that way for a long time. A lot of Slayer elements come through in my writing because that was what really got me into guitar, it just happens when i write. I definitely do try to vary my songs, that is intentional, just depends what I'm writing about lyrically. The riffs and lyrics have to match up in my mind hahahaha, if that makes any sense. It doesn't matter it makes sense to me.....most of the time anyway. The song Vulkodlak is our representation so therefore I wanted all the elements of the band to be in it in some fashion. Bewitching the Pious was the first song Bobby and I ever wrote and honestly it kinda wrote itself. As the Witch Consumes is an ode to the old school more thrash based stuff like Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory.

Shawn: Ozzy era or Dio era Black Sabbath? 

Justin: Dio will always be one of the true kings of metal, a true genius and in no way I'm I even comparing he and Ozzy as vocalists, because there is no comparison....Dio hands down. But!!!! The stuff with Ozzy is what started this whole thing that I'm so privileged to be a part of.....so Ozzy era all the way

Shawn: Thank you very much for doing this interview. We've reached the end here, if there’s anything you would like to add or share feel free. The final word is yours!

Justin: I think I've been long winded enough so I'll adjourn by saying check out the In Metal We Trust site for all the badass reviews and interviews you can handle and check out the Vulkodlak facebook page to keep up with all the happenings of the magic city's blackest!!!


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