“Like rats in a maze…”
There are those who like black metal. There are those who love black metal. And even rarer, there are those who are black metal. Watain mastermind Erik Danielsson represents the latter.
The band’s most recent release, “The Wild Hunt,” was nothing short of the hype it built. Watain are experts of infusing different genres of metal into their music without ever compromising the integrity of black metal; and the newest is album is loaded with the evil riffing and chaotic percussion that drive fans wild.
Opening with the eerie, atmospheric “Night Vision,” the record explodes with “De Profundis,” a vicious track full of growls, violent melodies and Steve Harris bass lines. The album maintains its ferocious pace up until “They Rode On.”
The song is sorrowful and beautiful, and anyone that thinks Watain “sold out” is either ridiculously closed-minded or just plain unreasonable. The band was able to achieve a sound of real loss, despair and mystery by using some clean vocals and abstaining from distortion; a feeling that can’t be fully conceptualized from incessant blast-beats and noisy guitars. Though a nearly nine-minute ballad, impatient black metallers need not to worry as the album regains velocity by diving into “Sleepless Evil” and the album’s title track.
One of “The Wild Hunt’s” high points is found in the following song, “Outlaw.” The only track to feature an official music video (so far), tribal drum beats and Testament-style riffing create lawless vibe that seems to hypnotize the ears from start to finish.
One thing fans will notice right off the bat is the different style of artwork. Normally the band sticks to their emblematic pitchfork as the centerpiece, with a hauntingly intricate centerfold of demons, snakes, and other affiliated symbols. However, the pitchforks are minimized on the cover as the eye draws towards the oil painted skull and crown. Artist Zbigniew M. Bielak (Lawless Darkess illustrator) was commissioned for the cover; however it’s completely different than any cover the band has published, a clear nod to reference “The Wild Hunt’s” distinct sound.
Closing with the instrumental “Ignem Veni Mittere” and finally, “Holocaust Dawn,” the 5th record from Watain stands as a testimony that the Swedish metallers don’t have any plans of slowing down soon. Towering at just over an hour, “The Wild Hunt” is worth picking up for an experience that embodies the highs and lows of noise and terror.