Sound Check April 2022# 4
The exhibition contains 30 photos: Watan – Rock Hard Festival 2019
WATAIN broke the seventh seal. It is not yet clear whether the release of “The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain” portends his downfall. Biblical legends or not, Swedes will likely notice it with a smile and it will somehow fit into the apocalyptic atmosphere. But first the record must prove itself on a musical level.
Where is the difference between torment and orgasm?
WATAIN’s last two albums were in some ways in direct contrast to each other. “The Wild Hunt” is the band’s most experimental and accessible work to date, but it also had to come under a lot of criticism from hardcore. As an answer, the Trident Wolf Eclipse had a violent black hate swarmed in the face. Ironically, this brutal outburst of anger, for all its immediacy, also seemed like a compromise to all those who had ever tip.
As Eric Danielson reported in the interview, this time WATAIN gave a damn about any expectations, whether set by themselves or coming from outside, and let the inspiration go free. As a result, different stylistic aspects of the band fuse in “The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain”, with as much room for infernal pumpkins as for great melodies and black madness that punctuates time and time again scary, deeply talented solos rooted in classic heavy metal. Therefore, the album can be understood as a look into the past as well as the future.
So, “Ecstasies in Night Infinite” puts the fires of hell under your ass and takes off on a flying start with grueling thrash buggies, high-speed blasting beats, and crazy strings. On the other hand, the first single “The Howling” breathes the spirit of the “Sworn To The Dark” era between unbridled thrust and grandeur, while Serimosa’s is probably the sexiest WATAIN song to date. The base melody immediately catches your eye and there are strong tight vibes, fueled by the manic atmosphere typical of WATAIN rather than the gothic gloom of the natives.
Islands in the dark sea
Finally, “Black Cunt”, “Leper’s Grace” and “Before The Cataclysm” paid tribute to the black metal trinity in an epic, crazy-rolling fashion, before another island rises from the black depths with “We Remain.” Backed up by an ominous death, the song’s highlight is certainly the unique vocals of Mochi (formerly Devil’s Blood, molasses), while Eric Danielson gives me the heart-wrenching sound of sinister stories.
After the goosebumps arising during “Funeral Winter” marked by shimmering vibrato and full throttle ebbs, Wattane finished the album with “Septentrion” with a hymn and on a surprisingly positive note. For where death, on the one hand, is described as the great and inescapable goal, life must also be celebrated and enjoyed to the fullest.
WATAIN at its best
With “The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain,” the band has really managed to pool their strength and coherently absorb the different aspects of their music into one album without making any lazy concessions. In addition, Tore Stjerna WATAIN gave WATAIN a wonderful distinctive sound in his Necromobus studio, which brings out every detail without sounding soft and, despite all the toxicity, also makes room for the music that undoubtedly champions. At least, there’s no roar mix at work here and WATAIN never felt the need to suggest it, because both guitar and drums are crazy sometimes.
Whether this is WATAIN’s best album is of course debatable. Some will find it tolerant, others will certainly repeat that this is not the “curse of frenzied death” or the “Casos of Luciferi.” Regardless, WATAIN can reliably and honestly convey the impression that it approached the recordings without any restrictions or limitations. The result is an album that perfectly captures the musical essence of their work and touches at least every stage of the band without recasting the familiar.