WATAIN – “Lawless Darkness” (Season of Mist/Riot! Entertainment)

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Album Review
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You know, I have to admit, I am definitely not the biggest fan of the Black Metal genre. I mean, sure, anyone who knows me personally will tell you I am a huge fan of Venom, the Viking anthems of Bathory and have been known to fly to Germany to watch as Viking ships are set on fire and sent to Valhalla. Not that Viking ships at Manowar shows in Germany have much to do with black metal other than the fact that bands who live in Norway like to kill each other, burn down churches and sip glasses of wine whilst uttering the words ‘freedom’ and ‘Satan’. Hey, I’ve been known to do the same thing on those lonely nights in front of the wood fire during Winter storms as I hang out in my secluded cabin in the middle of a forest. Actually, not a lot of that makes sense. Ignore it and let’s move on.

When I was in highschool, I used to listen to Venom all the time. Like over and over again. Each weekend was spent scouring through vinyl stores looking for albums I didn’t have (yes, even the period when Cronos wasn’t singing in the band; “Prime Evil” really is a great record). My obsession with Venom got to the point where these idiots came to my house one night and put crucifix’s all over my front yard with notes of Christian scriptures attached to them. I punched one of the dudes out cos he was a dickhead and disrespectful to my mum’s front yard. ANYWAY, the moral of the story is this… actually, I have no idea. It happened and I remembered it related to people thinking I was evil. My name’s Damien so obviously I attracted remarks like “the Omen!” and “The Devil’s child!” and all this other lame shit. It all came to blows one day when one of them, Tommy, said to me “Hey headbanger, show us how you bang your head!” and smacked my head against the wall. It was kinda like a scene from the movie “Trick Or Treat” (1986) with me as Eddie Weinbauer, Tommy as Tim Hainey and Venom as Sammi Curr. So I retaliated the same way and it appears I won as Tommy never came back to school. Yeah, take that Tommy! Note: If you haven’t seen this remarkable film, I suggest you do so immediately if only to remember such great record covers like this one from Exciter.

ANYWAY, Watain’s latest album, “Lawless Darkness”, was actually my introduction to the band. I mean, I knew of them. Hell, I think I even saw them at Wacken in 2008 (3 days of metal can become a bit of blur when you forget what sleep is like). But this was the first time I have sat through some studio offerings from Sweden’s sons of Satan. And sat through it I did. From start to finish. I didn’t burn down a single church, set fire to a crucifix or burn a cross into my forehead each Sunday. Shit, I didn’t even turn the record backwards (or in this case, use a audio program to reverse the MP3’s) which is something I did upon hearing the garbled nonsense at the start of Venom’s “In League With Satan” (off their “Welcome To Hell” album – which is pure genius by the way, no one can sound so shit yet sound so awesome at the same time. Venom are gods!)

“Lawless Darkness” kicks off with a track called “Death’s Cold Dark” and mate, I tell you now, it’s pretty full on. It’s pure black metal, but kinda like punk black metal, which I am sure no Black Metal fan wants to hear this band described as but the attitude is very much punk. The whole “we couldn’t give a fuck if you like it or not” attitude is very much in place. How do I know this? Cos if you want to make a shitload of money, you don’t start a black metal band. Well, maybe you did back in the day but probably not now. Still though, this shit’s pretty intense. Like those early Bathory records before Quorthorn (R.I.P.) started singing about his ancestors, Viking mythology and making groundbreaking albums like “Hammerheart” (which I have to say is one of my favourite metal albums of all time and anyone who likes good music should own a copy). Watain’s barrage of heavy guitars, melodic solos, and screaming vocals reminds me a lot of early Celtic Frost and Possessed (remember them? They had the dude from Primus in make-up, nine inch nail arm-bands and blood). Even early Entombed or the comical Death Breath I would say are similar and I actually like both of those bands.

ANYWAY, like I said, black metal isn’t my forte. I own a few records (vinyl only so I can keep it heaps more evil) and even own a Gallhammer DVD but to sit down and listen to this kind of music is a real chore for me. But like the trooper I am, I gave it a shot and I didn’t mind this at all. I mean, I can’t see me cranking it up when I invite some sassy lass over for some romantic loving but if I want to annoy the neighbours then this would definitely be my first choice. It’s pretty gripping stuff and I can’t work out any of the words but I am sure I did hear the word “whore” a few times and the word “horror” was heard during the song “Wolves Curse” (that’s a heaps good song title). The latter also has a killer breakdown in the middle and a wolf howling in it. Aaawwwooooooooo!

Watain, to put it mildly, is brutal. More brutal than the brutalist music you have ever heard (I am sure that sweeping statement will bring in some disagreements but I don’t care, this is coming from a dude who also listens to Poison, Great White and I even own a Kix LP so it’s quite clear I have no clue about anything.) I must say that for the production, it’s really punk rock; raw but not lo-fi. Just straight to the point. Like you know what you’re getting when you pick this album up. It’s not misleading, you get what you pay for. It’s pretty epic and the songs go forever; this album is a whopping 80 minutes long with no song shorter than 5 minutes and the longest being “Waters Of Ain” which clocks in at 14 minutes and 28 seconds (and is the only song on the album that has non-screaming vocals, albeit only for like 3 lines, but you gotta hear the guitar solo after that bit, totally like RUSH or “Sleeping In The Fire”-era W.A.S.P. or something). That’s some serious value for money.

Fans of that book with the church burning on the cover and those who like rehearsing in a cave, playing with candles, swords, corpse paint and changing your name to something Nordic and strange will absolutely love this. Actually, I don’t do any of that and I still enjoyed it cos musically, I gotta give these dudes props. They know what to do. They have the whole package going on here. And if I remember correctly, their live show was pretty chaotic. If you like people, happiness and calling your cats cute names like Tickles or Socks, you’re probably not gonna like this.

Watain’s latest offering hits the streets June 7th, 2010. Click the link below to secure your copy.

Watain on Myspace
Season of Mist Records website
Order “Lawless Darkness” from Riot! Entertainment

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