Doomed Nation

Sounds For The Lost Generation

Doomed Confessionary: Ken Wohlrob (Northern Heretic)

Northern Heretic is a heavy rock trio from New York.

Formed in April 2022, Northern Heretic consists of Rob Sefcik (Kings Destroy, Begotten) on drums, Davis Schlachter (Reign Of Zaius, Clothesline, End Of Hope) on bass, and Ken Wohlrob (Eternal Black, End Of Hope) on guitar and vocals. Their latest release »Angrboda« follows the band’s first single, »Killing Floor«, which dropped in November 2023.

Can you say a few words about your band?
We hail from New York and we play Heavy Music. You may have heard some of our other musical projects: Kings Destroy, Eternal Black, End Of Hope, Begotten, and Reign Of Zaius. The band includes myself on guitar and vocals, Rob Sefcik on drums, and Davis Schlachter on bass. We started Northern Heretic to create music that pushes the boundaries of doom, sludge, and stoner rock. It is still a dark and heavy sound, but more of a focus on dynamics and keeping the listener on their toes.

What was the biggest challenge for the band?
Time. We all live in different parts of New York, have important things in our personal lives, and also have other musical projects that keep us busy. Finding a day in a particular month when we can all be in the same room can be challenging. But as with all musical projects, the limitations inform the music. I’ll put song demos together in my studio that I send out to the guys. The music then gestates, each guy absorbing it in their own unique way. When we do finally get together, each guy brings in different ideas and concepts for a particular song. Often, we find that all three of us have different conceptions of what that song should be. We then try to blend those ideas, finding our way through the song, discovering what works best. The end result is often vastly different from the original demo I first shared with Rob and Davis. That process helps shape the songs into our particular sound. It’s a somewhat more contemplative approach to heavy music.

What can you be most proud of so far?
We’re really damn proud of our new song, »Angrboda«. This was something I had originally written for my previous band, but somehow it never felt like an Eternal Black song. It just wasn’t that same ugly, gritty doom we made in EB. It felt more expansive and dynamic. Davis and Rob really helped to morph it into a better song. »Angrboda« became our starting point for where we wanted to go musically. I’m also really proud of the lyrics for that song. It’s in the long tradition of doom love songs, the kind that Geezer Butler, Wino, and Sami Hynninen would write, but sort of giving it a Nick Cave-ian twist.

What was your biggest regret?
I don’t have any. The past few years have been very rewarding musically.

What was the best concert/tour so far and why?
Like Darkthrone, we don’t play live shows.

What was the biggest surprise on the music scene for you?
Heavy music-wise, there’s really not a lot that has surprised me in the past few years. So much heavy music these days feels recycled. Either older bands treading water, so they run their sound into the ground, or new bands who just ape the sound of a well-established band. That form of nostalgia is poison to any musical genre. I’ll hear a band that at best, you can say they’re capable. But I don’t need that. I’ve already got EyeHateGod doing that much better for five albums. A lot of new music also feels really fiddely diddely, very self-indulgent jammy noodling. Almost like the reaction to bands riding the same riff for eleven minutes became lets have endless riffs that go all over the place for eleven minutes. I’d kill to hear a doom band come out with an album like Slayer’s »Reign In Blood«. 10 songs, none longer than 2 minutes, and after 20 minutes, they leave you going “What the fuck just happened?!” Maybe someone has done that, but I haven’t heard it. Then again, I’m old and out of touch. So what do I know? Please tell me someone has done that, because it’s probably pretty goddamn stellar.

What is currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Darkthrone, William Basinski, Satyricon, Fu Manchu, Enslaved, Brian Eno, Dead Moon, Mark Lanegan, Rush, Townes Van Zandt, Motörhead, Grouper, Tangerine Dream, The Jesus Lizard, and Necrot.

What was the best advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?
Know how to edit.

What are your guilty pleasures?
Being content and happy.

Can you say something more about the music scene in New York?
We’re not a part of any scene. This is good. We’re not concerned with what other bands are doing or what’s happening at certain shows or what people have to say about this band or that. Those are distractions. We are solely focused on creating our own unique sound. We do have bands we’re friends with and we try to support them any way we can. But if you played a song from any of those bands, including ours, you wouldn’t hear anything that sounds like a scene. And that’s the way it should be. We’re greatly inspired by the people who do things differently than us. Speaking of which, the new albums from Clamfight and Thunderbird Divine that are coming out this year are quite damn good. You will think so as well.

Where can we see you live this year (concerts/tours)?
Nowhere. We have no plans to play live.

What are your plans for the future as a band?
We’ll be releasing 2 more singles this year. Then we’ll be going back into the studio to record four more songs that we’ll look to release in 2025. We’ve adapted to a new way of working where we don’t sit on music for too long. We want to get it out as soon as it’s ready so we can keep the conversation going with our listeners. That means we won’t be waiting until we have a full album’s worth of material to get it out into the world. It’s going to come at you rapid fire.

How can people best support your band?
Listen to our music religiously. Tell your friends.

Do you have any message for your listeners?
We’re not done by a long shot. Stay tuned.

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Bojan Bidovc // music enthusiast, promoter, misanthrop and sometimes a journalist as well

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