Cranking Evil is a two-song sonic blast from New Zealand speed metal trio Stälker (umlaut and all!). The EP is a pure throwback to ’80s speed metal at its finest, decorated with tons of head banging, piercing vocal wails, and blistering guitar solos, complete with speedy tempos and a battering ram of a rhythm section.

Formed in 2016 by bassist/vocalist David “Daif” King, guitarist Chris Calavrias, and drummer Nick Oakes, the band wanted to capture the old school metal sound that they grew up listening to. Through email, King and Calavrias explained the origins of the band, the local New Zealand metal scene, the band’s new EP and their future touring plans.



The origins of the band go back to 2016, what was the initial goal when first forming it?

Chris: The initial goal for me was to be in another band. My old band had broken up a few years ago and I had some personal shit to deal with and then at the right time and place I met Daif at one of my best friends' house. I heard him jamming some riffs and I was like, “What’s that?!” and then we hung out heaps and decided to form a band. I always had my old drummer from my old band up my sleeve for when I was in a new band; so that’s three of us. I said to Daif, “What are we going to do about a singer?” Then I found out he could do vocals, too. Who knew? I don’t even think he did.

Daif: Confirmed. I had no idea I could. I still can't either though! (laughs)

Did you gain a good local fan base by playing gigs around the area before putting out your first demo Satanic Panic? What was that experience like? What type of venues did you play?

Chris: Actually we didn’t. One day we decided to make the band public and we had the demo ready to go and a release show planned a month later. We played at our local metal bar, a staple in the NZ music scene, called Valhalla. From the first show we have had great support from the local crew.

Daif: When Chris says “our local metal bar,” he's being kind of dramatic. In reality, NZ doesn't have the population to support just one genre. It's the underground music venue in town that doesn't suck. Valhalla is legendary in NZ. It's been around since the ’60s and has been a million different things and been called a million different names. But it always had this dark edge that no one else had the guts to do. Massive shout out to Ben who runs it and all the crew that keep it going.

Describe the New Zealand metal scene at the moment. It’s a small country, but bands such as Alien Weaponry have been making a big splash in the past few years. Is there ample access to local clubs, rehearsal spaces and recording studios and does radio properly promote metal there?

Chris: The NZ metal scene has always been great since I was a young teenager going to shows in my hometown of Wellington. Bands have come and gone and some are still going. At the moment we have Ulcerate, (who are) absolutely fucking shit up overseas and local legends Beastwars doing their thing. Heaps of black metal bands, a new one to look out for is Vicissitude, for whom have just released their first LP. A lot of death metal bands; Soul Void from Auckland killing it up there. I don’t have much to say about Alien Weaponry, definitely not my style. They have made huge waves overseas and opened up metal to a lot of everyday people who wouldn’t normally listen to anything from underground scenes in NZ. They have worked very hard from a young age and have a great product. They are definitely out there doing it, and our biggest metal export. Radio stations have been supportive of metal with a lot of late night extreme metal shows through the ’90s and today.

How did you decide on the band name and who created your logo?

Chris: We spent ages trying to find a name that wasn’t taken and sounded heavy metal. Our good friend Harry Luxton drew and designed it. Harry is like the fourth member of the band and does all our design work for us. Bless him.

Did Stälker consciously set out to capture the spirit and fervor that pioneered heavy metal’s explosion throughout the early-to-mid 1980s?

Chris: I don’t think it was intentional. Well, no actually it was. The only music I want to play is old school stuff from early to mid ’80s, so naturally a lot of it is captured. If I was to start another band, it would be a NWOBHM style band.

Daif: Nothing is really intentional. That said, “man is not an island,” as the saying goes. I was listening to a lot of demos from around that time of heavy music (and still do). That really informed the direction Stälker was going to take. Chris and others are always showing me new stuff that I should’ve heard. I’d not listened to early Slayer until after our demo came out for example. Wild huh?

The two-song blast of new EP, Cranking Evil, shows a strong consistency in your songwriting. Briefly explain tracks “Ripped To Pieces” and “Kneel And Worship” please.

Chris: Thinking back, these were the first two new somewhat finished tracks as part of some new songs we were writing for a new record. I guess we knew we weren't going to have an album finished and out in 2022, so we decided to release the two tracks together. We thought these two worked well together and didn't think of it as a single and a B-side, but more of a double-single. I thought it would be cool to do another 7” and then that turned into a 12” thanks to Napalm’s suggestion.

The video for “Kneel And Worship” is epic. Who came up with the concept and describe the actual shoot please. How was that coffin ride?

Chris: Glad you liked it! It all started when a friend sent me a photo of that coffin at the local dump shop. It's like a shop where you buy second hand things at the rubbish dump. I left work right away and said I'd be back soon, and went up and picked it up. It cost $20. We were starting to think of music videos for each song and I had a thought about someone dragging this up a hill for the entire video. It was for “Kneel and Worship,” a slower more hypnotic song, so I thought it would be great. Hamish Waterhouse who directs and helps us make all our videos took over and came up with the story. It was filmed at the now infamous C&D Landfill, where we shot our two other videos, “Intruder” and “Holocene's End.” The whole day was awesome, such a fun shoot.

Daif: When we got there ready to shoot we all agreed that there was no way it would survive being dragged around all day, so Hamish and Bill (camera) went to the dump shop that was just at the bottom of the hill to look for a solution. They came back with a set of wooden water skis which we set about attaching to the underside. A classic tale of improvisation under time restraints. Film making at it’s best. I have to say though, that coffin was fucking loud to be dragged around in!



I think right away you could see the potential you had up till this new EP. Although you're not trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s noticeable the passion and power you have for this genre. How do you think the band has evolved since its early days?

Chris: That's a good question, and I'm glad that's what you think. I guess you're right, it's the passion and the power for the style and music. Not much has changed with the writing, always the same approach of just raw speed first and foremost.

What’s the band camaraderie and musical chemistry like between each member?

Chris: To be honest, I couldn't ask for anyone better to work with! Me and Daif are pretty close with everything we have to do, you have to be.

Daif: Yeah, it's like the Yin and Yang twins. Everything Chris isn’t good at, I am. And everything I'm not good at, he is. Adorable!

Your debut album, Shadow of the Sword displayed the essence of what ’80s metal was all about, yet welcoming into a newer generation. What were some of the things you wanted to achieve in the studio and what the overall sound of the record would be?

Chris: It was our first album so anything was possible. Looking back I wouldn't change a thing, it was a time and a place and captured what was going on musically with the band perfectly. It was all pretty new for us. A lot of learning and doing things as they were happening. Overall it was my third release musically (an EP and album with my old band and a demo with Stälker). We passed the mixing duties onto our friend Cam Smith. Lately we wanted to bring the mixing back to doing it ourselves, I think the more you get others to mix your stuff the more I think we should be mixing it ourselves.

Black Majik Terror is the band's sophomore full-length album, what were you trying to achieve with it compared to your debut?

Chris: Interesting reflection you have me going down now in my mind. I guess the goal here was to make a good, if not better album than SOTS.

Signed to Napalm Records, how has the working relationship been so far?

Chris: Absolutely a breeze, they are so chill to work with and will do whatever we want to do. I never thought a big label would be so supportive of such a small band in the scheme of things.

Is this two-track EP a stop gap for a new full-length release? If so, when will it tentatively be released and will these two songs be included or will there be a batch of brand new songs?

Chris: You got it man. I don't want to jinx it, and say it will be out soon, we haven't even finished writing… not by far. But we want a new record in 2023.

What’s next for Stälker in the upcoming year, including touring plans?

Daif: [We] really have to finish this album! Life being as it is, she can really get in the way of making the best metal release anyone has ever heard. With a new album comes the joy of touring too. So much to look forward to; new riffs, new countries. I don’t know how to slow down man. Pretty keen to get to Asia actually.


Cranking Evil released on November 4th, 2022 via Napalm Records.

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