Interview with Ken Wohlrob from Eternal Black

Please introduce your band. When was the band formed?

We first got together as a trio in late 2014. So far, it has been the same three guys: Hal Miller on bass, Joe Wood on drums, and me, Ken Wohlrob, on guitar and vocals.

What does the name Eternal Black represent?

For us, it is a great summation of our sound. It’s dark and doomy as hell. We’re not letting a ton of light into the sound. When people tell us what they like about our music, that’s usually the first thing they latch on to.

Can you tell us about your main influences?

The big influences for us are Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Cathedral, Church of Misery, and Reverend Bizarre. EyeHateGod is also really important for their overall approach, that rawness in their sound. In addition to the dark overtones in the songs, we really wanted the music to feel live and be rough around the edges. You hear a lot of bands today who have great production on their albums, their overall sound is really heavy, but in all the compression and overproduction the thing that gets lost is the grittiness.  Saint Vitus has that grit. Church of Misery as well. EyeHateGod has it in spades. The sound should be very organic and abrasive. We consider that an important element.

In 2015 you released your self titled, ep. How did the recording sessions go and how has the reception been so far?

The reaction to the EP has been great so far. I think people really understand that we’re drawing from that older sound but putting our own dark spin on it. Originally it was just supposed to be a demo so we could get gigs. We recorded it all in one day, from 11 AM to about 10 PM. Basic tracks were all recorded live. But Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall did such a bang-up job on the production, we decided to release it as an EP. It is very organic sounding. What’s funny is because it was just supposed to be a demo, we didn’t give those guys a ton of direction in terms of how we wanted it to sound. No overthinking. Plug-in and play. The only thing I can recall telling them is not to overcompress the drums. Joe, our drummer, is such a dynamic player that you don’t want to flatten his sound. There are nuances in how he plays the cymbals and the attack he puts into each hit on the drums. That’s the foundation so it had to be right. Pile a loud, raw guitar and bass sound on top of that and you’ve got something. Joe Kelly and Kol nailed it. They understood what we were trying to achieve even if we never sat down and discussed it. When they sent back the mixes we were overwhelmed by how good everything sounded. As I said, the reaction has been great. People quickly latch on to the darkness of the songs and the old-school bent, but the thing we also hear from a lot of listeners is that they really dig the grittiness of it.

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What about a full length album?

We actually have enough songs to do a full length. Anyone who has seen us live has heard us play “All Gods Fall,” “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying,” “Sea of Graves,” and the others. We’re trying to sort out our options right now. We’d love to work with a good, supportive label rather than releasing it on our own.

What inspires you the most?

Thematically, it’s old blues songs about the devil and murder ballads that don’t end well, paintings that have a sharp contrast between shadow and light, the sound of high wattage guitar amplifiers pushed to their limits, movies where everyone dies at the end, books that get beneath your skin and make you feel uncomfortable, ossuaries and charnel houses, old photos of ghastly ends, and other grisly things. Or really just Black Sabbath and beer, which usually produce optimum results.

What are you listening to these days?

I can’t speak for the other guys as we all listen to a broad swath of stuff. I know it’s splitting folks down the middle – some dig it, some don’t – but I like the new Church of Misery album. It’s a different style. It has more of the Maryland doom sound. A direct result of where it was recorded and the guys Tatsu is working with now. I do miss the edginess of their previous stuff. But I still think it’s a great batch of songs and they did a bang-up job of taking it in a different direction. The new Saviours is always in the rotation. Those guys are a hell of a band and don’t get enough credit for what they do. I’ve been going back and listening to a lot of bands people have sort forgotten about. Dishammer from Spain. Greenmachine from Japan. Great attack from both bands. Also sort of rediscovered Orange Goblin’s Thieving From the House of Godand Coup De Grace. Both get overshadowed by some of their other albums. But I remember seeing them at CBGB’s in New York City around that time and they were unstoppable. They don’t play many of those songs live these days, but the material is pretty stellar. And anyone who hasn’t checked out Beefrot, Clouds Taste Satanic, and Wizard Eye should give them a listen. All great bands we’ve been lucky enough to play with on different bills.

Any live shows planned for this year?

We’ll be playing at this year’s Maryland Doom Fest in June along with The Obsessed, Mos Generator, Karma to Burn, King Giant, Internal Void, and ton of other bands. We’ll also have more gigs coming up in and around New York City. Then hopefully along the Northeast US in late summer.

What does the future hold for Eternal Black?

Hopefully a full-length sometime this year. And more new songs to come…

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