By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the leading lights on the current burgeoning Bay Area metal scene, East Bay band Blackwülf has established a reputation for dishing out colossal riffs and memorable tunes over the course of eight years and three acclaimed albums. Coming together around longtime collaborators guitarist Pete Holmes and drummer Dave Pankenier (who have played music together since they were growing up in Arizona), Blackwülf is rounded out by singer Alex Cunningham and bassist Scott Peterson.
Working from the classic quartet model that served so many great hard rock and metal bands during the ’70s, Blackwülf crafted a handful of doom-laden originals for their self-released album Mind Traveler in 2014. While the group’s sound owes an unquestionable debt to Black Sabbath, even on that debut effort Blackwülf stood apart from the many stoner-metal outfits who are content to pilfer riffs and song ideas wholesale from the iconic metal godfathers.
With Cunningham’s commanding delivery and memorable vocal melodies at times recalling singer Pete Stahl (who fronted notable bands Scream, Wool and Goatsnake) and Holmes’ hefty chord progressions and stinging, concise solos ably propelled by the group’s hard-swinging rhythm section on “Royal Pine” and “Thunderwitch,” the album quickly earned the band fan locally and abroad while catching the ear of Bay Area heavy rock imprint Ripple Music.
- CBS SF Talks To Blackwülf Guitarist Pete Holmes (Feb. 2018)
The label would partner with Blackwülf to release the group’s sophomore effort Oblivion Cycles late in 2015, earning another round of rave reviews, including the endorsement of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich in a video posted on YouTube.
The East Bay headbangers took some time to get their next batch of songs together, but Blackwülf returned in 2018 with their second sternum-rattling effort on Ripple Music entitled Sinister Sides that was released to wide acclaim. The album featured guest appearances by legendary doom-metal guitarist Geof O’Keefe (a founding member of Pentagram and Bedemon) on several tunes and further refined the crew’s heavy, psychedelic metal sound.
In addition to having O’Keefe play on the album, the band prevailed upon the doom legend to visit the Bay Area to appear at their local record release party in addition to filming a couple of videos for songs from Sinister Sides. The band would go on to make appearances at Desertfest London and Planet Desert Rock in Las Vegas that same year.
The band played a number of local shows in 2019 (including a short surreptitious set in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum parking lot before a Raider game before security pulled the plug), but focused most of its energy on putting together new material for the forthcoming next Blackwülf album. The band may unveil some of those songs when the quartet headlines the Bottom of the Hill Saturday night. The group is joined by indie space-rock outfit Verst (who are celebrating the release of their third album Rammed Hair) and Oakland-based alt/prog band Together We Can Rule the Galaxy.
Saturday, Jan. 11, 8:30 p.m. $12
Bottom of the Hill