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Comrade Aleks talks to The Howling Void's Ryan Wilson in some depth about this enduring solo Funeral Doom project.

Interview with The Howling Void.
"Ryan Wilson from San Antonio plays in a bunch of Metal projects and bands whose extremity and brutality varies from Black Metal madness to Grind slaughter and back. However, the congregation of Doom knows him better as his Funeral solo project The Howling Void. 2009 debut album 'Megaliths Of The Abyss' and the sophomore 'Shadows Over The Cosmos' (2010) spread this burial gospel further, with the help of Solitude Productions. The Howling Void is still alive, and seventh album 'Bleak And Everlasting' proves that Ryan still has the skill to produce gloomy and low vibrations effectively and artistically."

The Howling Void's Ryan Wilson.

Hi Ryan! 2019 was a productive year for The Howling Void: Avantgarde Music released your seventh full-length 'Bleak And Everlasting', and then a split with Excantation appeared on GS Productions. How much time does this project occupy in your life?

I spend almost all of my free time writing and recording music for various projects, but The Howling Void has probably held my attention for the longest periods of time. Those albums take the longest for me to write and to arrange. All in all, I'd say it takes up a large portion of my life.

How did you get involved in the Doom cult? What was your first encounter with this genre?

I heard Thergothon back in the late nineties, not knowing what to expect. The style really resonated with me, so I started looking for similar stuff. I think after that I heard Skepticism and then Evoken. I was really into the genre at that point, but it wasn't until I heard Shape Of Despair that I really started to be inspired to think of my own ideas.

Why do you think Shape Of Despair worked better for you?

Shape Of Despair had a relatively heavy dose of synths, and that reminded me in some ways of the Emperor album. Especially on the Shades Of… album. The atmospheres there are incredible, and I was greatly inspired by the idea of making synth-heavy funeral doom.

What formed your vision for the project? Did you see it as a kind of Funeral Doom with orchestrations and "cosmic" lyrics from the start?

I specifically wanted to create funeral doom with synths like those on Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse. I generally find symphonic metal to sound kind of cheesy, but that album always sounded amazing to me. I thought it would be an interesting blend, so I set out to recreate that vision.

I always wondered about the 'Shadows Over The Cosmos' artwork - was it yours or the label's idea to use Fyodor Vasilyev's painting?

It was my idea. I had come across the painting and just thought it was enthralling for some reason. I don't really know what it is that I like about certain paintings, sometimes it's hard to articulate. Something just sticks out at me from that painting.

Are you interested in classic arts? Or did you dig deeper into Fyodor Vasiliev's legacy after the album's release?

I enjoy paintings from all eras very much, but I especially enjoy landscapes. The inspiration for The Howling Void's sounds usually comes from imagined landscapes in my mind, and it's always great to see a painting for the first time and just be transfixed and transported into it almost. I think I try to accomplish a similar thing with music.

The Howling Void - 'Bleak And Everlasting' (2018):

The Howling Void's music breeds bleak and cold images, and for example it's a bit easier to get when bands from…I don't know...Canada, like Longing For Dawn or Towards Darkness draw such soundscapes, but you're from San Antonio, Texas. Does that place influence you in this way?

I think most of the imagery that inspires the music comes from paintings and dreams and my imagination. I could be anywhere in the world and still be living in those worlds in my mind.

Can you say that there's no Texas in The Howling Void?

There are certain visual memories from different places in Texas that have inspired some of my songs, so yes it does play a part in the music. There are many beautiful places here, and I certainly enjoy it here. However I don't really know how different my music would be if I lived somewhere else.

Ryan, you've recorded seven albums since 2007. How would you trace your progress as a songwriter from debut album 'Megaliths Of The Abyss' to the current 'Bleak And Everlasting'?

I think I've progressed a great deal, but I'm still not a great songwriter. In terms of being able to express the sounds in my head, I think I've gotten better at doing that.

What's special for you in 'Bleak And Everlasting''s songs? How do you see its individuality?

I wanted to go back to my roots after having drifted into some more folk-tinged territory on the past several albums. The funeral doom was calling me back, I guess. I thought I did a good job of creating very memorable melodies of a higher caliber than I had on previous albums. Of course, I could be wrong, and the songs may not be very special. But they seem to really stick in my mind.

How long did you work on this album? And how much time do you usually spent on the project?

I spent about a month working on the album on and off. This is usually how it goes: I obsess over a particular project and write/record it in a relatively short period of time. Like I said before, I spend most of my free time working with music so I can get a lot done in a relatively short span of time.

Were there any highlights concerning some of The Howling Void's releases? How often do you receive feedback from listeners?

I enjoyed Shadows Over The Cosmos. I think that's as close to the "ideal" sound that I was looking for in the beginning. After that I started to wander, to experiment. I receive positive feedback from listeners quite often, actually. It is very flattering and I greatly appreciate it. People reach out to me via social media frequently, and they often tell me stories of how The Howling Void has played a special part in their lives. It is humbling.

For a few years you collaborated with Solitude Productions, before switching to Avantgarde Music. Did the new label grant new opportunities?

I was approached by Rob from Avantgarde to release the Runa EP and naturally I was eager to do so. Avantgarde is of course a legendary label, and I wanted a new experience. Solitude was great, I had no problems with them or anything. Just felt like trying something new.

Do you feel this genre grants space for development, music-wise?

Absolutely. I think there are all kinds of ways for individual musicians to grow and for the genre to evolve and experiment as well. Someone always comes along with a brand new take on things, and it shakes things up.

The Howling Void - 'Excantation/The Howling Void (Split)' (2019):

What are your ambitions towards The Howling Void's expansion? Funeral is a very niche genre and even "big" Funeral bands are only big relatively.

I don't really have any ambitions for the project, to be honest. It's just something I enjoy doing, and it's never been profitable or anything like that. I guess as long as I stay interested in the project, I'll keep releasing albums. It's always great when new people hear the music for the first time, so that keeps me interested as well.

Don't you ever feel a creative crisis? I see you play in a bunch of more extreme bands, how do you manage to run all these projects?

I feel creative crises all the time. I have at least one crisis per month. I run up against mental walls and I can't seem to write anything interesting. Or I feel a desperate need to create something new but I can't think of any new ideas. It is something I have to live with and keep conquering whenever it rears its ugly head.

Do you have any new The Howling Void releases planned for 2020? Or are you focused now on other projects and bands?

I'm currently focused on other bands and don't have any particular plans right now for The Howling Void. I'm just waiting for a time when suddenly I'll be inspired to start writing for that project again. I can't really predict when it will happen, unfortunately.

Ryan how would you sum up The Howling Void's message? What's it all about?

It's an expression of my inner world. There are others out there who live in similar worlds. When they recognize that someone else lives there, too, it helps to lift their spirit just a bit.

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Visit the The Howling Void bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-04-19 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Aesthetic Death
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