“The Appearing”: Karloff’s Bloody, Blackened Punk is Here to Haunt (Early Album Stream)
One of the most satisfying and simple sounds in the realm of punk and metal is the intersection of black metal, speed metal, and punk. Venom did it first and best all the way back with Welcome to Hell in 1981, but a variety of sonic territories still remain to be explored without straying too far from those earliest British roots. Midnight takes the same sound as Venom and throws in even more sleaze and heavy metal melodies, Barbatos do it with a heavy influx of dirty thrash, Nekrofilth add in death metal, and Karloff take it all the way back to the hardcore side of the mix, drawing on easy to play but hard to master punk chords to the point that, as of now, they aren’t even on the Metal Archives.
Their new album The Appearing is very modern in approach—fitting in well with both Devil Master and Midnight moreso than the dirtier uncles that they throw back to with their root sound—but doesn’t skimp on the ‘80s horror, and the entire thing is covered in a rictus of scorn and evil that’s almost as fun as it is killer. Powerful chorus pedal application and dreamy lead guitar seal the deal with extra depth that keeps the album from relying on pure muscle, which makes the strength of the riffs stand out even more.
Give The Appearing a listen ahead of its release this Friday, grab a copy from Dying Victims Productions, and read the interview below with frontman Tom Horrified while you do those things.
Though The Appearing opens with delightful, reverb-drenched clean chords, there’s nothing clean about the album after the riffs start. Was it difficult to capture the sense of horror that you wanted to convey for the album during the recording sessions?
No, not really. There is always a good working atmosphere in our recording processes and you gradually get more involved and sink into the songs. Apart from that, the atmosphere in the recording studio (Tonmeisterei Oldenburg) is always very special.
What inspired you to take your feverish love for punk into black metal’s territory, and how long after the songwriting started did it take for your chosen aesthetic to begin to materialize?
I am very enthusiastic about punk rock like Discharge, GBH, Poison Idea and Turbonegro and love this genre. Real punk, in my eyes. The aesthetics of Black Metal, especially Norwegian and all the myths, rumors and legends about it got me excited and interested very quickly. The old band photos, logos and everything always had a very dark effect on me, almost like reading old history books. It's very fascinating. With Karloff, I wanted this raw "fuck off" attitude of punk paired with the aforementioned dark atmosphere of Black Metal.
Did you get into black metal around the same time as punk rock, or later on?
No, I discovered punk rock first. Starting with the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Wipers and later Black Flag &. Melvins, early Smoke Blow...Later I discovered Darkthrone, Hellhammer and Bathory through friends. Over time I realized that many punk rock bands just hit your ass more than some metal bands. So it doesn't have everything to do with the musical direction. You also have to live and transport it. One of the best examples is Turbonegro. Hell, that band under Hank destroyed the clubs. Fantastic!
There are sections of non-aggression in both the introduction and in “Winterlude.” Did these softer parts originate as vinyl/cassette side delimiters?
No, I had the whole record roughly in my head before we wrote it. I wanted an entire atmospheric work of art and not just another metal / punk record. "Winterlude" doesn't exist on the record either. This was also just a working title. But this short interlude actually happened spontaneously in the studio. The listener should only be given a brief moment before he is further pounded. We were done with a song and this creepy wind whistled through the room microphones. We wondered what it was until we realized it. Then someone said: "press record!" and so we packed a little riff, harmonium and cymbals over it. But I'm very happy that the wind is real and not a sample.
Are those sort of dynamics- something to give the listener a quick break before being slammed by further aural devastation- important in your songwriting process?
Exactly, but it's not important for the songwriting process. It is more important for the whole concept and the album. With a good film or a good book, you don't have non-stop highlights either. There are always these little breaks like "to take a breath before jumping" , which just make the whole thing even more exciting.
I enjoyed the plentiful sections of slow, lurching riffs backed by fast-paced drums. Are those a conscious songwriting addition? What makes a Karloff song a Karloff song?
We are happy to hear that. No, I wasn't really aware of it. I can not describe it. A song just arises, continues to grow like a plant until it is finally finished. Of course, we all have limited capabilities on the instruments, but instead of making it unnecessarily complicated, I wanted things to be simple but effective at Karloff. I can tell when a song is a Karloff song but I can't tell you exactly when. I've always written all the riffs so far after a night or two of booze and stuff. Not important but I was always in a creative and misanthropic mood and ready to write riffs.
The Appearing releases July 30th, 2021 via Dying Victims Productions.