“I can show you holes in any man’s soul.” That’s the claim made by Wailin Storms vocalist/guitarist Justin Storms in their new song “Wish,” and the assertion checks out. Against a backdrop of searing Southern Gothic doom punk, his lyrics feel like desert hallucinations reflecting human fragility. After several albums and relocating to North Carolina, Storms recruited new conspirators before the band’s One Foot in the Flesh Grave record. They’ve since premiered their Sick City LP here at Decibel. They signed with notable tastemaking label Gilead Media. Most importantly, they have further sharpened their sound and songwriting as a cohesive lineup. Now their new album Rattle will be released on May 15th, and every note of this haunted masterpiece draws blood.
Steve Stanczyk’s ominous opening bass line in the title track feels like the first rumble of thunder preceding a tempest. By the time drummer Mark Oates rides into the fray on shimmering cymbals, the song’s wrath roars from the fingertips of lead guitarist Todd Warner. Amid moonlit riffs and stabs of feedback, Justin Storms howls about love and loss, the dead and the dying. Whether it’s the swirling fury of “Rope” or the spectral psychedelia of “Crow,” the band has created a sound that defies easy categorization. Each song is textured with death rock reverb and the wounded soul of cemetery blues. There are traces of pitch-black grunge. The recording by J. Robbins also conjures the band’s ferocious live energy, where each song feels like a rock ‘n’ roll exorcism. When safety permits Wailin Storms will be back on the road to fill your favorite venue with phantoms. Until then, Rattle is as close as you can get to the hurricane.
Play Rattle by Wailin Storms in its entirety below before the album’s released on May 15th. Also scroll below and read comments from the band about their eclectic influences and the album’s evolution. Don’t forget to pre-order and support the band and label until touring is possible. But first, prep your anti-venom because Rattle is ready to strike.
Pre-order Rattle on digital and physical formats from Gilead Media HERE
Or pre-order in Europe from Antena Krzyku HERE
Follow Wailin Storms on Facebook for upcoming tour details HERE
Decibel Magazine interview with Wailin Storms
Were there any changes to the band’s sound you wanted to make after One Foot in the Flesh Grave and Sick City?
Justin Storms (vocals, rhythm guitar): Make it cryptic, make it visceral. Don’t think, just fucking feel. With One Foot in the Flesh Grave we were pretty green as a band and the recording was somewhat stiff and reflected our newness in this iteration but it melded pretty well. With Sick City it felt like the complete opposite but began to capture our live sound better. But for Rattle I feel like we achieved that live sound energy without compromising too much of ourselves sonically while maintaining a sonic purity that’s hard to achieve without the right engineer and practice as a band. Personally I set out to capture raw emotion and i think Rattle encapsulates the human element that I love in my favorite records. The sounds that replicate that sinew-y stuff that’s hard to describe.
Steve Stanczyk (bass): It really felt like an evolution versus a specific process we purposefully set out to do. I think the four us playing together for a number of years now, we’ve kinda figured out what works and what doesn’t from our own repertoire and have gotten a lot better at fitting the pieces together to make a more cohesive record. At the same time there was definitely some experimentation with Rattle, the song “Sun” comes to mind in particular, where we went in a different direction that would probably be consider unusual for us.
Mark Oates (drums): When we were trying to figure out who we were gonna record with, J. Robbins name came up quite a bit. I personally felt he was the right person to go with because of his ability to produce a big drum sound. He has produced so many of my favorite bands. On Sick City, we were looking for a more grittier and dirtier sound. With Rattle, speaking for myself, I was hoping to get more of a live and aggressive sound, which I feel we were able to accomplish.
Todd Warner (lead guitar, backing vocals): I wanted to take a more avant garde approach. More abstract guitars. Less “rock”, more textural. With backing vocals my hope was to actually do more sophisticated harmonies. I don’t think I had the time to do as much of these things as I wanted, but I suppose that’s where my head was at.
What is your favorite song to play or what performance are you most proud of on Rattle and why?
JS: “Grass” has that dragging, swaying beat that grounds me and makes me lightheaded every time i hear it.
SS: That is a hard question. I think it would either be “Rope” in that it starts so heavy with those toms and driving guitar and then goes into almost a danceable part during the chorus with the bass line and drums. Totally unexpected. The other would be the quiet part during the middle of “Rattle” where Mark (drums) and I do this low end, nasty dirty growl of a line. That was not something we set out to write as part of the song but instead happened organically while jamming on the parts Justin came up with.
MO: For me, it has to be the title track, “Rattle.” There are so many dynamics to the song. Especially the middle part where the drums and bass lock in together. It’s been a hot minute since Steve and I have had a moment like that!
TW: Probably “Rattle” or “Grass.” Everything just sits together pretty nicely on those. “Grass” is fun to play. The slower tempo and it’s relative simplicity allow us to dig in.
Wailin Storms is such a singular combination of influences. What are some of the formative records you love that wormed their way into Rattle’s soundscape?
JS: Mulatu Astatqe “Vol. 4,” Bohren & der Club of Gor “Sunset Mission,” White Heaven “Out,” Old Regular Baptists, “Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways.”
MO: This is were I would totally geek out on this one, but I’m gonna keep it simple. My top 3 records I channeled into Rattle are Nirvana “In Utero,” Young Widows “In and Out of Youth and Lightness,” and Unwound’s “Challenge For a Civilized Society.”
SS: We get asked that a lot and it is such a tough thing to answer as we all come from such diverse backgrounds/experiences from all over the country and we’re all such music junkies listening to so many things on top of it. It is kinda like a giant pot of jambalaya that we all toss a few ingredients into. Personally I go through so much music in a given week that I don’t really have a favorite or something that overrules others. Growing up I played in mostly punk/indie/noise rock bands most of my life with one outlier into the stoner doom scene. So pretty much any of the non-commercial constants from those genres would be on my soundscape.
TW: Bauhaus “In the Flat Field,” Joy Division “Closer,” lots of Nick Cave stuff. Like Mark mentioned, this answer could go on forever. I’ll leave it at that.