It’s a Thursday night as I walk into a familiar venue to see a heavy metal show. I’m not that familiar with one the bands who are playing that night, but that doesn’t matter since I’m in the mood for some drinks, socializing, and some heavy metal. Little did I know that by the end of the evening, not only will I have seen a local band play a show complete with theatrics and badass metal, but I’d be jerking off a 10” inch black dildo attached to a live-action Baphomet. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the trip that the band Darklord takes you on.
From the ashes of Year of the Wolf, Gunner Bandura (Guitar and Vocals) and Steve Lefevre (Drums) were hungry to get another project going. They had been composing music for their new endeavor, Darklord. Enter Brewja (bass), who was “lured” (Steve’s exact words) to come play bass for Darklord under the pretense that she would be trying out for Year of the Wolf, a band which Brewja was a fan. Once they had her “locked” (again, Steve’s exact words) in the practice space, they “Trapped her with songs of the Dark Lord” says Gunnar. This sealed the lineup for Darklord, but more importantly, at this point, all of the pieces came together to make Darklord what it has become. “A band devoid of ego, with a pure love for metal”, Steve says proudly.
Having been used to a “too many cooks in the kitchen” kind of band management situation describes Steve, He and Gunnar wanted to get the chance to express themselves more thoroughly. Steve, who had been the drummer for multiple bands for over 25 years, was able to step out from behind the drums and step into a writer role. Enjoying their sibling-esque relationship, Steve and Gunnar quickly “learned that our writing styles made it easy for them to collaborate on new music” describes Steve. Brewja notes how “it’s almost like Gunnar and Steve speak in a foreign language that only they can understand as they work out new music”. She explains how she doesn’t want to get in the middle of that partnership because the results are outstanding. Brewja also has her own language when writing music as well. If she hears something and raises the devil’s horns, that means the material has the Brew Seal of Approval. “If no horns are thrown up, then maybe something needs a bit more work”, Brew laughingly shares.
Darklord is a far cry from Year of the Wolf stylistically. Whereas Year of the Wolf was straight-up hardcore punk, Darklord finds themselves somewhere down a sludgy path that Black Sabbath built. Steve, after working in The Stork Club in Oakland for 8 years and having seen hundreds of bands, he had plenty of opportunities to study and ascertain what kinds of bands he enjoys watching. Darklord’s vibe has become the culmination of Steve’s ID wrapped up in a band. “After seeing the countless styles of bands over the years, I realized that one thing I hadn’t seen is a stage show that incorporates a live Baphomet with a great rack”, Steve says with an emphasis on the rack. “I’d seen hundreds of images of Baphomet used in bands, but there’s just something about a live Baphomet that will get the crowd’s attention” says Steve. Steve also emphasizes that “It’s not sexual, but the idea of our imagery, and the live Baphomet, is to stimulate people’s senses”. “The 10” cock, and goat mask attached to a topless woman, does a great job getting the attention of the crowd” Steve explains. However, Darklord’s live show has evolved to include live virgin sacrifices by the unholy high priestess of the Dark Lord, and other similar rituals. The actors in this macabre pageant, come from a pool of talented local friends who see what Darklord is trying to do and volunteering their time and talents to make it happen. “Everyone that’s helped us out with this has been so gracious and willing to help out and become part of the show in their way”, Steve says. This stage spectacle will continue to evolve and perfect itself for as long as Darklord plays. Gunnar recognizes The Rocky Horror Picture Show touring troupe, and what they do, and hopes to tour with the whole Darklord cast and crew. Steve recalls bands like Alice Cooper or Gwar and how theatrics has been a part of Heavy Metal for quite a while. This is not to say that every show will have the full cast. “Darklord should be, and will be, known and remembered for our music” Gunnar adds. “There’s just something wrong with people who are always at Gwar shows, but don’t know Gwar’s music”, Gunnar adds. Darklord’s stage show is just another part of the whole package. Gunnar wants to make the music as memorable and as compelling as the theatrics.
At this point in the interview, Brew affirms that from the first time hearing the music, that she was on board. It should be noted, however, Steve and Gunnar hadn’t shared their ideas for the live show with Brew until they were sure she was solidly on board to make sure they didn’t scare her off… but this writer is not sure if there’s much in this world that would scare Brew off.
Though the stage show gives off a solid satanic vibe, that’s not all that Darklord is about. They do have songs that openly criticize organized religion, but Gunnar says “it’s more about not being a slave to an institution that discourages free thinking”. They also have songs about overpopulation and other societal topics. Using Baphomet and their satanic imagery is “more of an anti-establishment symbol than literal satanic worship” Gunnar points out. The band likes it because the symbols they use cause a strong reaction, one way or another. “It lets us know where we stand with our fans”, Steve says. Another message that Darklord radiates that’s not so blatant, is the sense of female empowerment. Two thirds of the band are not only females, but strong females who are aggressive and powerful. Steve mentions “I think that it will be females who will save Heavy Metal by overcoming the “Bro-ness” of metal”. He says that schtick has been played out and in order for metal to evolve, “a different voice needs to make itself more present in this music”. “Back in the day when you would go to a metal show, there would be 99% males and the 1% of females that showed up to the shows were getting pawed at for 3 hours”, Steve explains. There’s already been a huge shift in those numbers in metal. The appeal has shifted in that way. Darklord isn’t trying to ride the fact that they are mostly females. Instead they want to treat this as normal, “because it IS normal” Gunnar emphasizes. Everybody involved in the band and stage show is female, outside of Steve. “That’s why you see so many boobies everywhere” Gunnar quips. “It’s a cool darkness of the female spirit”, she adds. In choosing the name Darklord, they mention that it’s a universal term and used in many different situations. “Sauron is a dark lord, Darth Vader is a dark lord, Voldemort is a dark lord” and it’s already a big part of society’s psyche. With the band Darklord, however, it will be turned on its head because of the dark lord in this situation is a female. Gunnar sees the embodiment of dark lord as a female “but she’s every bit as terrifying or strong as any of the traditional dark lords that exist in culture”, she adds.
Darklord have recently released a video for their song Temple of the Blind. It’s a heavy, sludgy, piece that begins at a snail’s pace, but builds throughout the song, to culminate in a rush of aggressive metal that will melt the face off any listener.
The video is inspired by cards in the Tarot. In the video Gunnar is The Fool. A wanderer on her motorcycle heading out on a journey of self discovery. On her journey she takes “leaps of faith” to open her consciousness, but may offer danger which lead her along her way. She comes upon The Hermit, played by Steve. After their interaction and learning what she can from the Hermit, she is directed to go visit The Emperor. Played by Brew in the video, “The Emperor” gives The Fool the next set of mind-expanding lessons, then hands Gunnar a pyramid which is the clue to the next destination on her journey. The pyramid leads her to the end of her journey, which is found at an actual pyramid. Once inside, she meets Baphomet (The Devil card). In this case, the devil signifies all of the things you’ve become attached to and are potentially stopping you from pure self realization. “The Lovers”, in the this video have chained themselves to one another. The chains are loose enough that they can easily escape, but have chosen to remain bound. Gunnar is then accepted by the devil and accepted in to their fold… but death in this instance actually symbolizes a rebirth, and this time a rebirth free of the shackles and attachments of her former life. At the end of her journey of enlightenment, she’s been freed by her bonds and has achieved a higher level of consciousness. Summed up by Steve, this is “Darklord’s main message… the advancement of the self and the freeing your mind”.
Darklord’s live show will be an eye-opening experience for all who dare to behold. Their music is heavy, dark, and thoroughly invigorating. This band, though already armed with a stellar show and stellar music and a no-ego environment in which to write music, will continue to evolve. Make sure to check this band out!