AUGUST 27th 2013

Review by Kristiina Bjørstrom

Genre: Black Metal

Country: Sweden

Release date:
August 19:Europe
August 20:North America

Erik Danielsson: vocals/bass
Pelle Forsberg: guitar
Håkan Jonsson: drums
Alvaro Lillo: live bass
Set Teitan: live guitar

I’m a new name here, a guest star, if you will. I’ve been graciously invited by Metal Mom to review the new release from my favourite band, Watain. This is Watain’s 5th full length studio album and was recorded during a 4 month stint in which the band shut themselves off from the outside world to do what they were born to do.  I recommend that this album be listened to as a whole piece, with the physical copy in hand. To truly understand where this album comes from, one must be able to see the artwork, read the lyrics and take the time to contemplate the work that has been set before them. The art chosen for the album cover is a piece by Zbigniew M Bielak, the same artist who did the art for Lawless Darkness, and it depicts the spoils of The Wild Hunt, as seen through the eyes of Watain.

Here, I will do something a bit different. I’m going to review track by track and share my thoughts and insight.

1. Night Vision
This song is a trap. It is an instrumental masterpiece redolent of the Greek Sirens, meant to draw in the unsuspecting with its haunting beauty. Once drawn in, however, the listener is trapped and finds himself on an unpredictable voyage.  

2. De Profundis
This song bleeds true Satanic black metal. Filled with blast beats and vocals that would sound at home in the black metal of the 90s, this song is in your face and should please even the most critical black metal fans.

3. Black Flames March
This is the only song on the album not written by vocalist Erik, but by Set Teitan. Lyrically, there is no hinting here, this is clearly a hymn to the Dark Gods and The Mighty Dead. No doubt Satan, Himself will hear these praises. Every song on this album is so different and this one, to me, truly represents a march toward greatness, in terms of the band’s growth and success.

4. All That May Bleed
This song represents Watain’s misanthropy well. It is a call to slaughter and a middle finger to the commonality of society.  As the first single released, it was the first taste given of this new era. The lyrics can be clearly heard even by those whose ears are not tuned to black metal, yet it is still rough enough to convey the angst within.

5. The Child Must Die
The second single release of this album delivers a less punishing sound but an equally potent atmosphere. The guitars really take lead of this song. But for those listening, one must wonder, who is this child and what does it mean? One can speculate and of course self-interpret but the answer is a broad one. For those looking for Erik’s perspective, one may find it hinted at in an online interview.

6. They Rode On
Probably the most talked about song on the album and rightfully so, this almost acoustic and almost ballad delivers the true heart of Watain, torn wide open. Reminiscent of Bathory and with completely clean vocals, it offers the listener a rare insight into the ‘other side of black metal,’ if you will. The track is very raw, and I salute them in their gall to release something so daring. Hands down, my favourite track.

7. Sleepless Evil
After the previous track, the listener is almost unprepared for the intensity of this song. They could not have chosen two better tracks to place back to back. The only single word to describe this song is ‘haunting,’ and even that is too generic. It is vicious, it is ferocious, and the guitar/drum combo creates a feeling spiraling.

8. The Wild Hunt
The title track is both melodic and bestial at the same time. Also featuring clean vocals, the song itself is a voyage that begins almost chanting and ends with the sound of a brand new night.  It conveys both the historical aspects of The Wild Hunt of Scandinavian lore and the Hunt that is Watain’s alone. The duality in the lyrics is astounding.

9. Outlaw
Probably the most fun song on the album, for me, and would have won the award of my favourite had not ‘They Rode On’ been so masterful, this song begins with, dare I say, a tribal feel. If ‘They Rode On’ is the song of their journey, ‘Outlaw’ is the song of the flame that burns inside.  The defiance can be felt with every cord of this song and the intensity is translated into speed and dizzying guitar sets.

10. Ignem Veni Mittere
Translated roughly as ‘They Came to Bring Fire,’ (forgive me if I butchered that, my expertise is in the Germanic languages). This is another instrumental track with power and melody. One can only speculate the feelings behind this song as Watain leaves no hints for us here.

11. Holocaust Dawn
The first half of this song could have easily fit onto ‘Lawless Darkness’ and no one would have been the wiser. But then there is an abrupt change and the listener is faced with the end of his journey. Here, he must look himself in the mirror and decide if he is ready to face the end of the world with his head held high or if he will run away. The feeling of doom and comfort (apparently it is possible to feel both at once) jumps to the foreground. There are no lingering comforts to the end of this song, though. The end is swift and all one can do it sit back and contemplate the journey that has just taken place.

Some fans will love it, some fans will hate it, but that is the way of progression. To any new fans reading, I encourage you to pick up the previous four albums before listening to this one if you want to get the full experience of this album. Though it is not their heaviest work to say the least, it is certainly their most profound. For me, personally, there was not a moment while it was playing when I did not have goosebumps.

Watain will be kicking off the era with a show in their hometown of Uppsala, Sweden with In Solitude and Degial on August 24th. Following that, they head to North America with In Solitude and Tribulation.

Oct. 8–New York, NY–Irving Plaza
Oct. 9–Philadelphia, PA–Underground Arts
Oct. 10–Worcester, MA–Palladium Upstairs
Oct. 11–Montreal, QC-Foufounes Electriques
Oct. 12–Toronto, ON–Opera House
Oct. 14–Detroit, MI–The Magic Stick
Oct. 15–Chicago, IL–Bottom Lounge
Oct. 16–Minneapolis, MN–Triple Rock Social Club
Oct. 18–Denver, CO–Marquis Theatre
Oct. 19–Salt Lake City, UT–In The Venue
Oct. 21–Seattle, WA–Studio Seven
Oct. 22–Vancouver, BC–Rickshaw
Oct. 23–Portland, OR–Hawthorne Theater
Oct. 25–Oakland, CA–Oakland Metro
Oct. 26–Los Angeles, CA–VEX
Oct. 27–Phoenix, AZ–Rocky Point Cantina
Oct. 28–Albuquerque, NM–Launch Pad
Oct. 30–Austin, TX–Red 7
Nov. 1–Atlanta, GA–Masquerade Hell
Nov. 2–Charlotte, NC–The Casbah
Nov. 3–Baltimore, MD–Baltimore Sound Stage