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Knightwolfs Unleash a New Breed of Rock and Roll Animal

Vancouver doom-rockers find balance in the dark of life and beauty of death.

by Johnny Das

Photos by Dani Costello

Upon entering “The Wolf Den,” a room nestled in the upstairs corner of a multi-room artspace in Vancouver, you are greeted with a wall-spanning banner of a wolf donning an inverted cross on its forehead. Pinned between a vintage Motörhead poster and a Black Halos skateboard, the omniscient creature oversees the room like a sort of spiritual guardian. On a nearby wall hangs a skeleton rocking a brown 1980s hair-metal wig and blue-rimmed sunglasses, looking like he partied a little too hard last night and is ready for round two. The skeleton stares across the room at a shrine to Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks.

Doom-rockers Knightwolfs find sanctuary here. The Wolf Den serves as not only a rehearsal studio, but a clubhouse for Vancouver’s music and arts scene. Hangouts, jams and afters with some of Vancouver’s most well-known artists have taken place in this occultish rock and roll haven. 

“Everybody’s got a dark side. Some people hide it better than others,” says guitarist/vocalist Elliott Dolcetti, as he and bassist Cam Labelle sit relaxed on a black couch. In spite of some of the darkish decor displayed around the room, these two men seem more likely to grab a friendly beer at the bar than commit a sacrifice in the woods. 

Dolcetti says his interest in horror and gothic themes stems from his upbringing around covens in Victoria, BC. Since the age of three, Dolcetti has been fascinated by, and experienced, the paranormal. 

“My mother was a witch and she never told me not to believe in things, you know?” he says. “She encouraged it. There’s more than just what your eyes see, you can feel it. I remember one time I woke up with a dark spirit over me. I couldn’t move. People have been scared of the dark since the cavemen. It’s ingrained in us. But we’re still intrigued by the darkness.”

“It’s that side of life that everybody’s trying really hard not to experience most of the time,” adds Labelle. “To be honest, I’ve always wanted to experience something like that. I’ve seen some spooky stuff in the sky and I want to believe in Bigfoot. I’ve got a bunch of weird things that I like and I follow.”

This, plus the contrast of the band members’ upbeat, ‘let’s have a good time’ vibes and their bleak and surreal interests, is the foundation of Knightwolfs’ debut EP, Blood Witch. Dark yet danceable, gloomy yet heavy. An ode to doom forefathers like Black Sabbath and Candlemass with a modern feel. 

“We’ve all got our own ‘blood witch,’” says Labelle. “There’s always something haunting you out there. It’s all sorts of different things. Could be anything. People can interpret it as they will, but the blood witch keeps on coming back in different forms.” 

The album comments on the dark side of living and the beauty within death. The mysteries behind our mortality has arguably been a fascination since the dawn of human consciousness. Will we succumb to eternal blackness? A karmic afterlife? Will we be forever floating as earthbound spirits, or perhaps reincarnated into every possible creature, living every possible experience for eternity?  

Philosophically, the weight of life, and the uncertainty of death, provide excellent ideas for crafting songs,” writes drummer Johnny Steward via email. “We do not dwell on morbid fascination or death. It’s more of the observation of a world that is ever chaotic, being torn apart at the seams. Full of beauty and crushing defeats.”



“That’s the interest for me,” says Dolcetti. “There’s not a fucking person walking around right now that knows for sure what happens. So it doesn’t freak me out, it’s not scary for me. You can make up your own story of what’s going to happen. Like, what’s behind that door? It’s pretty easy to be fucking depressed and be really bummed out about everything and take things a little too seriously.” 

Dolcetti continues. “I’ve never stopped living my fullest life. I always try to take the most out of every day and every situation. The worst day of your life is the day you don’t wake up. Everything else is pretty minor compared to that. I don’t sweat the small things.”

It seems that the band’s openness, understanding and comfort with the inevitable end has given them an appreciation for the present. Although we will never know what death will bring until it knocks at our door, there are still questions that can be answered in our present lifetime. All things considered, we had to ask: What exactly is a Knightwolf? 

“Somebody who likes to live in the night,” Dolcetti confirms. “A knight of the night. Someone who likes to have their friends around and needs to grow in a pack.”

Labelle concludes: “When the moon is out, that’s when the howling begins.”