Following an extensive tour and a monumental record.
When we first spoke to WORMWITCH back in our November interview, the unit was in preparation of putting together what we consider one of this year's most dynamic records so far, their sophomore outing Heaven That Dwells Within. Fast forward several months later and the menacing body of work made it's way to audiences across the world, garnering praise and charting on three separate Billboard lists. Rightfully so, Heaven That Dwells Within captures curious eardrums with a collision of subgenres accessible to listeners across the heavy spectrum. Guitarist Colby Hink wasn't kidding when he mentioned the follow-up to Strike Mortal Soil would be more "cohesive and harder hitting."
Heaviest of Art had a chance to catch up with WORMWITCH and talk all things Heaven That Dwells Within following their recent trek across the country:
Congratulations on the release of "Heaven That Dwells Within"! How do you feel now having the record out after months of putting it together?
Definitely a release of lots of emotions, adrenaline being one of them. As we work towards learning what it is that makes an album of quality, there are lots of unknowns during the process, and it's easy to doubt oneself. At the end of the day, each piece of work we put out is a past effort almost the moment it's released, even while we continue to support it we are thinking of the future, because we're not yet satisfied.
It seems that it’s being well received, having attained three Billboard chart positions. Does this motivate you in any way as musicians?
It's a nice sentiment, but there's plenty of shitty music that's praised by the masses. Speaking only for myself as I don't want to put words into my bandmate's mouths, I'm motiviated almost entirely by my own desire to create good art; at one time I relished the ego-stroking that comes with praise, but as I began to look further into the soul of music--and art in general--it became an impulsive personal quest, and sometimes I wish I could remove myself from the picture entirely to purify the process, in a sense.
When we first spoke back in November, you mentioned that the follow up to "Strike Mortal Soil" would be a drastic step up in creativity. "Heaven That Dwells Within" represents a clear evolution in sound and musical prowess. What do you attribute that to?
Mostly what I mentioned in my previous answer. I'm simply not satisfied with anything. It's a curse, but also maybe a blessing insofar that it's the ultimate motivator. Progress becomes a need, like breathing, self reflection, drinking water, or sex. The moment a creation is complete, it is the culmination of my abilities in that moment, is archived, and tossed away or used as a foundation to keep building upwards.
"Strike Mortal Soil" was tagged by many as a black’n’roll release, whereas "Heaven That Dwells" is truly genre smashing. Musically, what was the goal coming into this record?
The goal was to stop waffling between ideas and set a relentless course, which I don't think was necessarily achieved. Strike Mortal Soil is a record written by children with a limited scope of ideas, a general lack of understanding for what makes things good and interesting, operating under the false pretense that variety is inherently good and interesting, when in reality is mostly chaos (and not in the good way). We attempted to narrow the scope, reign in our ideas and create something that's in some way unique. That's the sentiment anyways.
Artistically, you abandoned the molten landscapes for The Lady of Shallot. Why go with this John William Waterhouse piece?
Waterhouse was a master in his field. The molten landscapes of the first album are another representation of extreme-metal-by-numbers infancy, but was our best effort at the time. As hard as I am on all of my work, I also view it all as necessary, otherwise this would be an especially fruitless endeavour.
The Lady of Shallot became my favourite painting around 2015 when I first discovered it and learned its story. As an avid reader of Arthurian legend, I felt the palette, the composition, the look on Elaine's face, all perfectly expressed the relation between beauty and melancholy inherent in those stories--old growth forests, lit by twilight, while a sorrowful maiden embarks on a doomed quest. That feeling has stuck with me and many of the songs written were held up against that backdrop like a filter.
You also mentioned fantasy-inspired lyrics during our previous conversation, which I believe are perfectly represented by Waterhouse’s painting. What inspired this lyrical direction?
The lyrics are mostly revolving around a personal fictional setting that I used to great effect to lift myself from the depths of weakness and depression. I spent a lot of time there, developing my own myths and legends, distilling my love for grand tragedy, hopeful triumph in the face of terror, and a grounding in new philosophies and my long relationship with history. Nothing particular inspired writing that way, it's just where my head was at the time; it's a little escapist. I spent so much time there during the past three or four years that memories of it blend into my real memories. I find that I lean on it less now, maybe because I expelled a lot of it into this album. Now it's a silent companion.
You just wrapped up the tour with UADA. How was that and how well have the new tracks been translating live?
The songs are far more satisfying to play live, simply because they're better than our old material. The tour was a good time, plenty of good people, good drunken nights, new friends. Every tour comes with its battles, but we always come out on the other side having learned something, which is invaluable.
You were on quite the trek, meaning lots of miles driven. What did you all listen to on tour?
Lots of Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Billy Idol, and Mercyful Fate, and some Wardruna. Otherwise a lot of death metal. Demilich, Disma, Outer Heaven, Dead Congregation, etc.
As "Heaven That Dwells Within" continues to pound on speakers throughout the world, what comes next for Wormwitch?
Always working towards making better and better art. Learning what it is to write good songs, reading, expanding on our ideas, and trying to create something worth creating that's original in some fashion. As relative newcomers to this mentality (as opposed to a punk/garage band mentality of slapping together some songs just for the purpose of having songs and playing in a band with your friends), it's been a period of rapid growth. Always a step forward, never backwards. Wanting to explore new ways to make metal and avoid the pitfalls of mass (over) produced, record contract driven trash. Death to ego, cool guys, aesthetically driven soulless music, and stagnation. Haven't made the record I want to make yet, it's an eternal quest.
Heaven That Dwells Within is out now via Prosthetic Records. Get your copy HERE.
Catch WORMWITCH on the upcoming Heaven That Dwells Within Tour alongside funeral doom lords UN on select shows. Dates and more below:
Heaven That Dwells Within Tour:
07/12 Calgary, AB - The Palomino* 07/13 Regina, SK - The Exchange* 07/14 Winnipeg, MB - Park Theatre* 07/16 Omaha, NE - Lookout Lounge* 07/17 Iowa City, IA - Gabe's 07/18 Lexington, KY - Green Lantern 07/19 Richmond, VA - Wonderland 07/20 Baltimore, MD - Sidebar 07/21 Philadelphia,PA - Kung Fu Necktie 07/22 New Haven, CT - Cafe Nine 07/23 Boston, MA - O'Brien's Pub 07/24 Brooklyn, NY - Bk Bazar 07/25 Pittsburgh, PA - Howlers 07/26 Detroit, MI - Sanctuary 07/27 Chicago, IL - Reggie's/The Joint 07/29 Kansas City, MO - Riot Room 07/30 Colorado Springs, CO - Black Sheep 07/31 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge 08/01 Boise, ID - Vista Bar 08/02 Bend, OR - 3rd St Pub 08/03 Portland, OR - TBD 08/04 Seattle, WA - Funhouse *No UN