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Time to Kill

Arizona punkers Hour of the Wolf find the horror in everyday life

By Reyan Ali · April 8th, 2009 · Music
Once identified as the feral pioneers of the burgeoning genre called Horror Punk, The Misfits have become a self-parody of their best days (last seen in 1983) and primarily subsist to sell merchandise with their logo pasted on it. East Bay firebrands AFI used to shape their hair into devilocks and spit fast tirades about the suburbs; now they’re a juggernaut of Nu-Emo histrionics with more ridiculous multi-colored manes. Cult acts like Calabrese and Blitzkid made only minor divots in music and haven’t produced anything noteworthy in years.

In 2009, who is left to carry the dwindling flame for the provocative sub-genre called Horror Punk?

The prime candidate appears to be Hour of the Wolf. Steeped in the no-bullshit fervor of Black Flag and the ominous imagery that The Misfits crafted so well, Hour of the Wolf’s material violently barrels forward without a pause in sight. The barbed bellows and croons of guitarist/vocalist Lance (whose surname is usually published as Wolf) propels the band as Hour’s instruments wreak the kind of destruction you would expect from the weather during Armageddon.

The quintet originally came together in Prescott, Ariz., in the early 2000s and features four members of now-defunct Hardcore group Life in Pictures. While Lance was in what he calls “a Misfits wannabe band,” Life in Pictures was doing an extensive amount of touring.

Lance’s band and Life in Pictures once shared a bill, and the group asked him to sing for a side project that would become Hour of the Wolf. In its earliest incarnation, Hour existed to perform oneoff shows, like a Misfits-themed Halloween set. When Life in Pictures dissolved in 2006, the secondary group had a chance to craft a style and do some touring of their own.

Hour of the Wolf found their moniker in the English translation of Vargtimmen, a 1968 Swedish film helmed by iconic auteur Ingmar Bergman.

“The name comes from further back in Europe,” Lance says. Referring to a period between night and dawn, “it’s the time when most people die, most children are born and unexplainable things happen — crazy things, ironic things, things that just boggle your mind.”

This point is where the band’s interpretation of the concept deviates from the original.

“We don’t necessarily use it in the supernatural sense,” Lance says. “(Being) a slave to a job every single day is our Hour of the Wolf. It’s horrific.”

Though the quintet’s dagger-like tracks carry labels like “Death’s Coming,” “Overload,” and “Burn It,” they take advantage of the freakish motifs engrained in the Horror Punk style by adding a second dimension. In slinging turns of phrase like “I’m a psycho killer/ Once the fun starts, baby, it won’t end” and “Mutant fucking family gonna eat your baby,” Lance is trying to evoke the darkness found in common ordeals in an unfamiliar way.

“The Misfits wrote about horror movies,” he says, “but I wanted the horror to be about legit things, like having to work a stressful job everyday and not being able to pay your rent. To have to live with that reality and know that you’re going to struggle through all of it is a bad horror movie. People can think our songs are about zombies or whatever they want when (they’re actually) about soccer moms driving SUVs and not real zombies. It’s just (about putting) real stuff in.”

Instead of committing to a firm full-length release schedule, Hour of the Wolf keeps busy with lots of smaller projects. They’ve released splits with a couple of Hardcore bands (one with Lewd Acts in May, another with Shook Ones in the fall) and recently wrapped up covers of The Stooges’ prototypical Punk cut “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Breakin’s a Memory” by Kid Dynamite (the latter for an upcoming tribute comp called Carry the Torch).

Lance and Hour of the Wolf’s second guitarist Hank also play freelance art mercenaries under the guise of The Wolf Brothers. One of their most curious pieces comes by way of their Power of the Wolf EP, whose cover art features the Grim Reaper carrying a baby while he sits in the bloody mouth of a rabid wolf. The picture is effective, mildly disturbing and what one would expect from a group making the Horror Punk aesthetic work.

Even as the band valiantly fleshes out their discography and keeps their eyes on breaking fresh ground, however, they also hope to see Horror Punk’s original creatures someday return to classic form.

“The Misfits were the first Punk band I got into, and they will always be my favorite,” Lance adds, fondly. “(We) wouldn’t be a band if it weren’t for The Misfits.”

If the Hour of the Wolf can thrive long enough to somehow fulfill the prophecy of their name, Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only and Co. might share a stage again someday — even if only for 60 minutes.

Hour of the Wolf plays the Cup & Saucer Cafe Wednesday, April 8. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.



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