On April 21, 2015, the Bay Area metal scene—and the underground metal scene as a whole—lost a prolific and talented artist named Drew Cook, guitarist for Oakland-based bands Dimesland and Wild Hunt. At the time of Drew’s death, the former had recently released Psychogenic Atrophy, an abstract, cacophonous, wholly original LP that mines the spastic depths of grind, noise and prog. And the latter had just put the finishing touches on the follow-up to their lauded 2012 release Before the Plane of Angles, which garnered the band well-deserved attention from fans of progressive black metal and received a “9” in the pages of Decibel.
The fact that Scroll and Urn is one of Drew’s final artistic contributions to the world is fitting, as it represents everything that was great about him: forward-thinking, full of inspiring technique and an immutable source of raw creativity. The four songs on this EP churn with dark energy and showcase dynamic songwriting and musicianship that is simultaneously familiar and otherworldly. Wild Hunt has always been one of the Bay Area’s best kept secrets, and Scroll and Urn is proof of their—and Drew’s— undeniable power.
Here’s drummer/vocalist Harley Burkhart to talk about Drew’s untimely passing, Wild Hunt’s new EP and the future of the band:
“When Drew passed, of course the question came up: can Wild Hunt continue without him? At first—since we were totally blindsided by the tragedy, consumed with grief and disbelief—I was thinking our days were numbered. Drew’s passing seemed inconceivable to begin with, so it seemed ridiculous to imagine Wild Hunt and Dimesland without him. But after calming down a bit and talking it over for a few weeks, we eventually decided to resume working toward our original goal: to complete a second full-length album. It’s what Drew would have wanted us to do, and we’ve already written a good part of it. In fact, two of the songs on Scroll and Urn were originally supposed to be part of this full-length. We cranked out [the EP] mainly to have something to give to folks while on tour with Cormorant. I never would have guessed how important that decision would prove to be.
Scroll and Urn’s content is strangely appropriate regarding Drew’s death. It felt like a fucking milestone for us—we did the whole thing ourselves, and Drew was very proud of the finished product. He said he would normally never listen to his own music, but he was playing this one repeatedly. The album felt strangely complete even though we were in such a time crunch, especially in terms of its arc. The first song is dark and chaotic, and it’s the one song the band wrote together; the second song is a more calm and dreamy piece; and the third song, which was written almost entirely by Drew, sounds almost triumphant in tone, with a resolve nodding toward a new beginning. The lyrics and song titles actually have a lot to do with death, which is something I never really set out to do. This is especially apparent during the second half of “Scroll and Urn,” where the lyrics are actually somewhat of a dirge…but rather, one recited by the dead themselves. And then there’s the title of the first track, “Columbarium,” which is a place for urns and also a home for doves, which are symbols of the soul. I’m hyper-aware of all this shit now, and it’s got me thinking about our music and all the time I spent with Drew in such a profoundly different way.
Anyway, after this second full-length, who knows what will happen. We’re just taking it day by day. We’re also planning to do a live performance, in tribute, with Drew’s brother Nolan (Dimesland, The Residents) in his place. Nolan’s playing style is probably the closest to Drew’s if one were to compare, so it’s the most obvious decision we could make.”
Check out a stream of Scroll and Urn below, and purchase a CD or digital copy here.