Some months after we interviewed Celestial Wolves in Ghent, we met the guys in Aalst, in a museum. Their release concert was that evening, one street away from the museum. There were a lot of things we wanted to talk about like the European tour, new bandmember Thierry and of course the new CD, 'Illusive Landscapes Of Expression'.
As a start, I confronted them with some words from reviews about the new CD: explosive, trance, landscaping, energetic, minimalistic/dramatic, jazzy bass, dynamic drums, epic, intensive, deafening hard, being crushed, guitar virtuosos, technical perfection.
Overwhelmed they said: "Are those quotes about us?"
The first reply came from Wouter. "Jazzy bass was maybe a good description for the first CD, but now I personally like calling it 'proggy bass' more. Jazzy can be the impression because I vary a lot and I use a five string bass. As a second word, I like 'explosive' because sometimes I lose control and damage my guitar doing so."
Thierry prefers the words 'trance and epic'. He tells about the feeling he gets on stage. The music drives him into a trance, he blends into the music like he's blending into another dimension.
Thierry: "There are moments on stage we forget all the countings. We slide away into the moment thrived by the vibe. Epic refers to the end of 'The Light' where you get that catharsis feeling like at the closure of a film, 100% epic, but not bombastic. This is an end that becomes stronger and more solid towards the conclusion. It does not get darker, but gets lighter and leaves you with a good feeling."
Joris: "Intensive is the right word for me. It doesn't only describe us as musicians, but especially describes our public. I can't stand still when playing our music. We grew the last two years and in this process, we also became more intensive. We work towards climaxes, but it's never planned. It's what we feel at the moment and the energy explodes at the right time. At that time we are all in one."
Mathieu: "I can understand some of the reviews that stated that it's my drum sound that makes the new CD sound much harder, but that's not the whole truth. Drums and bass create the framework, and that sounds harder than before. The guitarists can go further thanks to the new framework. Before, they were playing a more melodic sound, now they can expand. In each song, one of the three guitarists can color outside the box."
The Smasher got his name when he damaged his bass guitar on Dunk festival 2015. He literally pulled the inside jack out of his guitar. After a long tour, he seems a little more quiet and I dared talking with him.
The gig in Vigevano, somewhere in Italy, was the first on the tour. In this city of appr. 65.000 inhabitants, there is only one venue. Despite the fact that they slept in the tour van with seven of them the night before, they were all enthusiastic about this evening. Especially Wouter because a lot of bassists were there for the concert. There is a rock school in the neighbourhood and most of the students are regular customers of the venue.
The Man (the nickname of Thierry) sits proudly behind the desk of Louis Paul Boon, one of the famous writers of Belgium. With a self-confident big smile he talks about his whereabouts in Bratislava. He remembers it very well when they approached the city on a bridge that looked out on a tower with a top like an UFO and a majestic church.
The venue had the special name "The British Stars". On the walls, there were pictures of idols who had visited the pub.
If Papa Bear is as important to the band as his body is strong, he is certainly the man to talk to. But according to his own vision, he is just another member with the supplementary task of artwork and visual communication. He ensures us that for the arrangements and the sound, everyone is equal.
The artwork of the new album seems to be a copy of the eye of Sauron (The Two Towers). But Dieter denies that and says that it's a cat's eye with a human eye around it.
Dieter likes to talk about Trento, where they had a gig and where they met their old pal, Johannes. Johannes is a former member of Celestial Wolves, but had to leave the band when he chose for a new job in Trento. The stay at Johannes' place, the gigantic pizza, the performance in the cellar of the venue, and many other things are engraved in the mind of Dieter.
Little Animal (Mathieu) doesn't know his bounderies when playing the drums. But off the stage, he's a rather introvert person. When you press the right button, he flourishes and gives his own vision on the subject. Which is like an instinct to him.
Arrived in Pilsen, Tjechia, the band wanted to visit the venue immediately. But at first sight, it was a dirty place. Everyone thought that this was also their sleeping place so they desperately started looking for a hotel room. Afterwards it seemed that the promotor had arranged a nice and clean place to stay. The venue was special because there were three floors with different halls. So the first impression was wrong.
A lot of fans came to the gig and after the show, the ambience in the band was really good, but it lasted only for an hour. It was the day that Paris was attacked and The Bataclan had suffered such a tragedy.
Joris, the headbanger, is the wild one in the gang. There are no limits for him on stage. Before this tour, he and Mathieu were the beasts on stage, but their energy has now infected all the band-members.
Freiburg was a gig booked together with another band they know. That's how it should work among musicians. It was the last concert on the tour and everyone was very thankful for the nice days together as band.
Joris: "The public kept applauding and that touched me deeply. Last concert and last song, it was a moment I will never forget. It seems now as if they applauded for more than five minutes, a standing ovation."
'Après Moi Le Déluge' is a famous saying of Louis The Fourteenth and since November 2015 also one of the songs on the album of Celestial Wolves. Louis was crazy and the song is about the madness of this life. It was created based on structures and rhythms, not on riffs like they usually do.
Wouter: "We wrote down the countings, in other words the moments when we wanted to switch in the song. Thanks to the ideas of Thierry, the guitarist who replaced Johannes, there are also stoner accents in the sound."
Re-Entry is a song that Thierry wrote in his bedroom. He presented it to the band during his audition. It's like a kind of entry for him in the band. For a lot reviewers this song is the best of the CD, maybe because it's the one that was already available on the internet as a teaser for the album release.
In Alithia, one can find a special tone and ask: "What is this, where is it coming from?".
Well, it's a special effect box Dieter is using.
Dieter: "The box creates a very high pitched sound. It repeats the sounds I play, one above another. Alithia is the first song of the album and also the first one in the live performance. When the vibe is good at the end of this song, the whole perfomance will be good. It's a kind of indicator for the gig."
Rebellion Era is a song that is straightforward from start to end. It's a step away from the classic post-rock structure.
Mathieu: "The song starts with drums and a bass line and it has strange countings. It feels good to me when we don't have to think in 4/4 or 3/3. We need more of this kind of challenges. The song was made when the Arabic Spring was in full swing and it has a similar chaos in its structure."
That's the difference with the first CD: every song has its own structure now, not the usual built up postrock with different layers.
The Light is a song that makes the bridge between Wood for Woods and Illusive Landscape of Expression. The composition of the song was written some time ago and it wasn't on the shortlist for the first CD. So, this song is mixed with new influences and enriched with the techniques they use now.
Joris: "The Light is the last song on the new album. We see it as a fitting end because it respects our roots, namely post-rock, and it's less harder than some other tracks, a good way to end. It's a statement in the positive way, after darkness and chaos there is light. If we would have choose Aprés Moi, that would have been an other statement."
CHUM said in a previous review: This CD will bring a breakthrough for Celestial Wolves - they will become the 'Amenra' of post-rock - they will be nominated as a cult band, bringing their own mix of noise-rock, post-rock, post-metal, drone, and stoner - they blow people off the ground - they will be remembered as The Masters of Anthems.
Joris: "Honestly, we are not into this kind of discussion. It is not our thing, we leave it to the journalists. We know that we expand out of the box of post-rock, that's a fact, but we are also happy when reviewers say that we are playing 'just good post-rock'."
Joris • guitar
Wouter • bass
Thierry • guitar
Mathieu • drums
Dieter • guitar