MINENWERFER “Let Slip the Dogs of War”
By Dr. Abner Mality
“Somme. The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word.”--Friedrich Steinbrecher
Here at Wormwood, we like to enlighten our readers as well as entertain them. Today, I present a history lesson that all should know but all too few do in these sad times. The greatest battle of the First World War was fought on the banks of the river Somme in rural France during the summer and fall of 1916. The French and British initiated a combined offensive against the entrenched German army in hopes of a decisive victory. The battle dragged on month after bloody month and became one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of mankind, with more than a million casualties. It was the essence of trench warfare, with thousands dying on both sides to win just a hundred yards of land at a time. The Allies eventually regained lost territory but with a horrible cost. For all its brutality, the Somme was not the final or decisive battle of the war.
The battle forms the concept on the new album “Feuerwalze” by California black metal brigade MINENWERFER, one of the surprising black metal success stories of the last couple of years. If you could put this grinding, murderous battle to music, it would be the sound of “Feuerwalze”, one of the fastest and most relentless albums to cross the Good Doctor’s desk in a long time. I originally thought these guys were European before learning to my surprise that they hail from the Golden State. No better time to get a briefing from Herr KRIEGSHAMMER, one of the two soldiers making up this brutal unit.
Here follows the briefing. Keep your gas masks handy...
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings from Wormwood! The new album “Feuerwalze” is upon us and it is the fastest and most brutal MINENWERFER to date. Was it your explicit intention for it to be so extreme or did that just happen naturally?
KRIEGSHAMMER: Both. It’s a return to form for us. We’ve always been on the more brutal side of Black Metal. I am more comfortable with the style that we were doing before 2019, and so we’ve decided to get back on track and expand on it.
WC: The album is centered on the battle of The Somme, one of the deadliest in history. How was it that you came to be focused on this cataclysmic conflict?
K: Since this is most likely our last album to focus solely on WWI, I wanted to pick a campaign that was infamously bloody to close out this era of the band.
WC: Have you ever visited the location of the battle or any of the locales you write about? If so, what were your feelings? It certainly would be a profound experience.
K: Unfortunately no. I don’t have the time or money to travel.
WC: What was the biggest revelation or most surprising fact you uncovered when looking into The Somme?
K: That there were a million casualties and the battle was altogether indecisive.
WC: The battle was fought more than 100 years ago, but in light of the current war in Ukraine and battles like Bakhmut, it seems more topical now than any time in the last century. The warfare there is very much like the grueling trench fighting and attrition of Ukraine. Did the similarities have any affect on you when writing “Feuerwalze”?
K: No, I’m not interested in modern war.
WC: Speaking of Ukraine, the only other band I know of that writes about WW1 with the same intensity as you is 1914. Do you know of them and has there ever been contact between your bands?
K: We did a split with them back in 2016. I haven’t had any contact or kept up on what they’ve been doing since though.
WC: The band is now operating as a duo. Will this be the final form of MINENWERFER and are you most comfortable with this configuration?
K: Most likely. More people can just complicate things. We have a good thing going, so there’s no reason to bring anyone else in.
WC: Are any live actions planned for the band or are you pretty much a studio-only project?
K: Studio-only. I don’t have the desire to hire people and play live. We played live for almost 10 years (2007-2017) and it was usually playing in complete dumps for 10-20 people and we’d leave the gig with a net loss of money, fuel, and time. Not eager to return to that.
WC: Interest has really grown in the band since “Alpenpasse”. How much of a breakthrough was that album both thematically and stylistically?
K: I don’t know. I always looked at it as doing what we usually do. Everyone says how the album is so different. I don’t think of it that way. We’ve had long drawn out songs before and we’ve had acoustic folk songs before. I suppose a lot of people just think it’s our first album and don’t realize we’re a 16 year old band now.
WC: “Feuerwalze” is such an overwhelming album, both in sound and subject matter. Have you given any thought to what comes after and how you can top it?
K: We are already 4-5 songs into our next album. We have plenty of ideas on how we can keep moving forward and do something different each time. I’m not interested in repeating myself over and over like AC/DC. How boring and unchallenging would that be?
WC:. Based on song titles, MINENWERFER seems to be very oriented towards the German side of WW1. Have you written much from the French, English, Dutch or other perspectives?
K: “Alpenpässe” and “Kriegserklärung” were both written from the Austro-Hungarian perspective. Some of “Volkslieder” was written with the French perspective in mind. “Feuerwalze” is kind of half English, half German although our aesthetics just lean towards Germany. Our next album will feature a completely new perspective and totally new territory.
WC: When doing a band with German song titles and imagery, it seems you always have to deal with “virtuous” folks who try to link it to fascism. Have you had to deal with this sort of thing much and how would you handle it? From what I can see, the historical research behind the songs seems impeccably accurate.
K: I realize there are a lot of illiterate retards out there. Obviously nothing I say or do matters once they have made up their mind. So I choose to do what most mature adults do and ignore it. Plus I don’t care about people who spend all day whining about bands on message boards. I have a life.
WC:. If you could have dinner with any 3 people from history, who would they be?
K: Napoleon, Attila the Hun, Roman von Ungern-Sternberg
WC: Are there any other musical projects you have involved with?
K: Plenty in the past, most vary in quality. Currently I have a solo project called VERMINEUX which is much more raw and all self recorded on outdated equipment.
WC: Any last messages for the fans?
K: Thanks for the support.