Locals: The Black Antler keeps it 'terrifyingly brutal' on 100 Wolves
Winter has already done an admirable job of blotting out the sun, but things are only going to grow darker with the late February release of 100 Wolves, the latest EP from local thrash metal masters the Black Antler.
The band, which launched as a duo in 2009 behind singer/screamer Adam Lowe and drummer/sometimes screamer Alex Weinhardt, expanded its lineup to include bassist Ryan Moya in the summer of 2013 — an addition on par with a dungeon acquiring yet another torture implement.
“If you listened to Black Antler before I joined, it was brutal,” said Moya, seated alongside his bandmates at a west side hot dog shop for a late December interview. “Now it’s terrifyingly brutal.”
The change is noticeable from the onset of the album-opening “Feathers,” a turbo-charged road-grader far heavier than its weightless title would imply. Elsewhere, the musicians plow through endurance challenging thrashers (“With Teeth,” essentially a manic fit set to crushing guitars) and comparatively doomy numbers like “Medicate,” which opens slowly, enveloping its surroundings like thick, black tar before boiling over near its midway point.
Lyrically, the songs are largely informed by nature and politics — topics that have intrigued Lowe from childhood (“I feel like those two subjects form everything; politics rules what you’re doing, and nature rules where you’re at,” said the guitarist) — though listeners might not pick up on these nuances at first pass.
“It’s funny that we spend so much time and energy on that thought process and in writing the lyrics, then it comes out like (growls) and no one has any idea what you’re saying,” Lowe said, and laughed. “But that’s just part of the genre — the aggression of it.”
Expect a similar sense of catharsis to take root when the band visits Spacebar for a concert on Friday, Jan. 9 (a record-release show is slated for late February at the same venue), considering the three musicians pride themselves in playing to the point of exhaustion each time they hit the stage.
“I come out of every show having to lie down for 20 minutes because I’m totally destroyed from moving and screaming,” Moya said.
It’s a relentless energy Lowe has embraced from his earliest days as a teenage punk obsessed with bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag, and it still informs all of his creative endeavors, be it music, photography or skateboarding.
“Even with skateboarding you’re creating constantly,” Lowe said. “I always had that knack for wanting to build and create something. That has always been my drive.”
Photo by Meghan Ralston
10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9
2590 N. High St., Campus
ALSO PLAYING: Lo-Pan, Beggars, Prize the Doubt