The Wounded Kings are a relatively new Doom Metal band from the United Kingdom. There's probably not a more fitting place on earth for a true Doom band to call their home: dreary Dartmoor in the South West of England. Multi-talented Steve Mills (he's playing guitar, bass, drums and keyboards) agrees: "Oh yes, it's bleak, dangerous, haunting and beautiful. It inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write 'The Hound of the Baskervilles', so it's gotta be the right vibe for a Doom band!" It truly is. The Wounded Kings' first effort for High Roller Records is a vinyl re-release of 2008's CD "Embrace of the narrow House". Steve explains: "'Embrace ...' has never had a vinyl release, it's been a long time coming though, the way it was put together and the sound, it was made for vinyl. There are no extra tracks for this release, just 42 minutes of concise spectral Doom!" "Embrace of the narrow House" was followed by "The Shadow of Atlantis" in 2010. Steve Mills thinks that both albums are quite different from each other: "'Embrace ...' has a more eccentric 70's pysch, anything goes kinda feel, it was our debut album and we wanted to get all our ideas out there, I wanted to make an Italian prog inspired Doom album, like if you crossed Candlemass, early Paradise Lost and Museo Rosenbach or PFM. 'Shadow ...' on the other hand was a conscious decision to make a concept album and make it as bleak and as heavy as we could, total unrelenting in its nihilistic outlook!"
Plagued by endless November rain, it is no wonder that it was England that spat out two of the 1980's most glorious Doom bands: Pagan Altar (from East London) and Witchfinder General (from the West Midlands). Witchfinder General are indeed childhood heroes of Steve Mills: "I've got 'Death Penalty' on original red vinyl. I've had it since I was a kid, not listened to it in years, must dig it out again sometime, but haven't got anything by Pagan Altar. I've not really heard much by them to be honest." So which school of Doom Metal do The Wounded Kings belong to then? Steve: "I'm not sure we belong to any school of Doom but at the time of 'Embrace ...' it'd be the late 1980's/early 1990's bands that inspired me such as Cathedral, Paradise Lost, Dream Death, Candlemass. I grew up listening to these bands, but having said that there is just as much inspiration that comes from Pink Floyd, Serge Gainsbourg, David Axelrod and Radiohead." I always wondered if there is a musical tradition of Doom Metal in the UK at all? Does some kind of Doom movement exist, comparable to the glorious N.W.O.B.H.M. (and later Grindcore and early UK Death Metal)? Steve weighs his words: " A while ago I'd have said no, but recently ... Yes, I think there is a Doom movement of sorts coming along, small though it is, some great UK bands around at the moment like Pombagira, Serpent Venom, Conan and Witchsorrow and Sigiriya to name a few. After all there's not a lot to look forward to in our country at the moment: unemployment, poor wages, people fucking each other over left right and center and majorly shit weather, a great catalyst for this kind of music."
As I already anticipated, The Wounded Kings' musical inspiration even goes back to the 1970's Occult Rock genre, with bands like Black Widow, Atomic Rooster and Coven being no stranger to Steve Mills and his colleague George Birch: "I fuckin' love all those occult bands, but I don't think we take much influence from them. They were much more theatrical than we are and way more tongue in cheek (with the exception of Atomic Rooster). We aim for a more serious approach with topics on suicide and the fragile disintegration of the human condition." Which leads us nicely to the lyrical approach of The Wounded Kings: "My inspiration usually stems from a book, never films. Once I've found a topic that interests me I start to give it that Clark Ashton Smith treatment, take something based on a myth or reality and take into the realm of fantasy. To another world!"