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East Bay metal favorites Blackwülf celebrate new beer at Oakland brewery

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the leading lights on the current burgeoning Bay Area metal scene, East Bay band Blackwülf plays an early show Saturday at Original Pattern Brewing Company in Oakland's Jack London Square celebrating their Blackwülf Pilsner.

Over the past decade plus, Blackwülf has established a reputation for dishing out colossal riffs and memorable metal anthems. Coming together in 2012 around longtime collaborators guitarist Pete Holmes and drummer Dave Pankenier -- who have played music together since they were growing up in Arizona --  the original line-up of Blackwülf was rounded out by singer Alex Cunningham and bassist Scott Peterson.

Blackwülf Raymond Ahner  

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.

Blackwülf - Mind Traveler (2014 - Full LP) by HeavyStonerDoomBlues on YouTube

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 fans locally and abroad while catching the ear of Bay Area heavy rock imprint Ripple Music.

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.

Blackwülf - Sunshine Of Your Love - Cream Cover (Official Video) featuring Geof O'Keefe of Pentagram by Blackwülf on YouTube

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 has played a number of local shows since 2019 (including a short surreptitious set in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum parking lot before a Raider game before security pulled the plug), but has focused most of its energy before and during the pandemic on writing and recording new material for the fourth Blackwülf album. Released once again on Ripple Music in early February -- and the first feature second guitarist Jesse Rosales, who joined the band last year --Thieves & Liars has quickly been hailed as the band's best and most ambitious album yet.  

Blackwülf - "Shadow" (Official Music Video) | Ripple Music - 2022 by Ripple Music on YouTube

Kicking off with the lead single "Shadows," the latest salvo from Blackwülf raises the already high bar that the band has set for itself over the course of nine tunes that show the quintet refining the art of stoner riff rock on the pulverizing title track and the cowbell-punishing "Failed Resistance" while pushing into dynamic new territory on the epic "Psychonaut/Edge of Light." The band hosted a record release party at the Elbo Room last March ahead of the beloved venue shutting down following a change in ownership. Last June, Blackwülf celebrated a release of a different kind having partnered with Oakland's Original Pattern Brewing Company to create Blackwülf Pilsner. The band returns to the brewery's Jack London Square location to promote the beer with an early show Saturday.

Saturday, Sept. 16, 6 p.m. Free
Original Pattern Brewing Company

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