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Wolf Reveals All About "Feeding The Machine," Lengthy Gap Between Albums And More

Traditional heavy metal is a funny thing in today's world. While the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest still sell out venues wherever they go, many of the younger bands who play a similar style are often overlooked in favour of more extreme strains of the genre. Nevertheless, even in the dark days of the nineties, there has always been bands keeping the uniform of denim and leather alive, one of the best examples of which, hails from Örebro, Sweden and this year turns the ripe old age of twenty five. Of course, I could only be talking about Wolf.

After a six year wait following the release of "Devil Seed" and with a new lineup in tow, the Scandinavian steelers are back with what could very well be their most ferocious album to date, "Feeding The Machine," which hits shelves tomorrow (March 13th.) Last night before their opening set for fellow Swedes Grand Magus, I caught up with vocalist Niklas Stålvind and guitarist Simon Johansson to discuss the album, why it took so long to be released, the striking cover art and more. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: The new album, "Feeding The Machine" is out on Friday. There's been quite a long gap since the last album, six years. Why such a long wait?

Niklas Stålvind: A lot of different reasons. For one, it took like three years to write the songs and during that time, we were working full time day jobs so we really couldn't afford to get fired. That's one reason. Also Simon built a great studio, Solna Sound Recording, which is the studio where we recorded and Simon produced, but it was a huge project to build a proper studio. Years actually. He had four days off in a two year period so it was insane and I just kept focusing on the songs and going to the other guys, travelling to their town and rehearsing with them so they would nail the songs. So it was pretty inconvenient to take such a long time but I think the end result will be worth it and now Simon has a really good studio and we have a good producer and a really good band, so as soon as we have new songs, the next album won't take so long.

Oz: That's good. From your initial listens to the album, how do you feel it compares to the previous ones?

Niklas: We tried to keep the depths from "Devil Seed," but the songs are faster, more in your face, it's more metal but we tried to make it an album that you can listen to many, many, many times, so you can discover new things and not have such a metally metally metal sound that it would pierce your ears after two listens. It's a proper heavy metal album, but it has some more if you give it a chance. I think it will grow on you. That's how we tried to do it at least.

Simon Johansson: Not as polished maybe.

Oz: I think the video, "Midnight Hour" is a perfect example of what you're talking about with regards to it being really in your face.

Niklas: I like that song. I actually stole the riff from Simon. We were rehearsing and he just played this riff and I went, "That one!" Then I took the riff home with me and the song just flew out.

Oz: If the rest of the album has the fluidity that "Midnight Hour" has then it's going to be really special.

Niklas: I think it's an album with ups and downs. A lot of diversity and dynamics. People have said that all the songs are different from the other, which is what we were attempting. We didn't want to do like one opening track then have two more songs with almost exactly the same recipe and then have one song like this and one song like this and the rest is just repitition. We wanted to make an album that you can listen to for a long time. It's like a journey. When I had "Shoot To Kill" written, it was like, "This is the opening track." It felt like the opening track and it was the same with "Feeding The Machine," it felt like the title track and then we have other songs that have their purpose on the album.

Oz: One thing very striking about the album is the artwork. It's a little bit grizzly and gruesome, but that's cool. Why did you go for a concept like this?

Niklas: It was actually Thomas Holm who painted it. It's a big oil painting that he made. He had already started it before I approached him. He usually does our album covers and we usually have a long, deep discussion about the songs and the lyrics, then we let his artistic mind do its thing. This was a thing that he had started before but then got the idea that it would be perfect for "Feeding The Machine." It was so different from what I expected and what I would have dreamed up, so it took a while for me to adjust but it really grew on me and I started to feel that this is the one. I can't really explain the whole thing and I don't know exactly what he thought when he did it but it just felt right. I showed it to the other guys and they loved it. It's very evil but in an interesting way. I think it gives the songs almost like another dimension.

Oz: Well the machine itself is evil so it goes hand in hand. This is also I believe the first album with the new rhythm section. How have they been settling in so far?

Niklas: Really well. They're professionals. They're so good it felt like we got a Christmas present from God! They've played together so much in the past, they have so much experience and so many hours and years of playing together, so the rhythm section is really locked in. The first rehearsal we did, which wasn't a long time ago at all, but the first song we did, it was like, "Holy moly! It sounds fantastic!" We were smiling up to here and we were rehearsing in Simon's studio so we could really hear everything.

It's really cool to get their takes on the old songs as well. Pontus is a phenomenal bass player, he has that power and heaviness, but he also has a lot of cool Geddy Lee/Steve Harris fills and things and he really gives something extra to the songs. It's the same with Johan's drums, he's perfect for Wolf because we have the same kind of drum heroes likes Vinny Appice and I think you can hear that Johan is a proper heavy metal/hard rock drummer, but you can hear a lot of influences from the great ones.

Oz: Ever since, "The Black Flame," you've been with Century Media. How would you describe the relationship with them?

Niklas: It's really good. It's always been very good. Our A&R Jens worked with us for many years but he quit and moved on to something else and we were a bit worried but his protege or his replacement, Stefan Franke, who we work with now works out really good. We can really feel that they love Wolf and they care and they want to do the best they can for Wolf. They understand what Wolf is and what we're about. It's a good relationship.

Oz: Just finally, what's the plans for the rest of the year?

Niklas: To write more songs. We already have three full songs written. There's a lot of ideas from Simon and I have a lot myself, Pontus has demos that he's made so we're just going to sit together and write. But we also want to do more touring. We just signed with a new booking agency so we don't really have any specific dates or anything but we want to go on a new tour in the Fall. We're focused on getting a new album out already. I would love to make an album with this version of Wolf.

Oz: That's kind of funny because normally if you suggest new material to a band they're like, "Steady on! The last one was only two years ago" and you're talking about the next one while "Feeding The Machine" isn't even out yet!

Niklas: I felt that because this album was really struggling, there were so many obstales along the way, members leaving during the album production and when we were on the end phase of the production for this album, I was just like, "I'm gonna write new songs now. I can't take anymore of this album!" It was this Summer I just thought, "I'm going to forget this album" because we had recorded everything, it was just details left and I was so ready to leave the album and start something new. So one song came and then another song and it felt like I was on a journey. Writing songs is a bit like an adventure and you never know where it's going to take you.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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