Watain - The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (Nuclear Blast)
It could be argued that black metal is the absinthe of the metal world. It's not for everyone, some try it once and a while to experience it, and then there are those who swear by it. To that point, if black metal is the musical equivalent of a bottle of 'the Green Fairy', then Watain is easily among its finest brands
Returning after four years with The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain, the Swedish trio (who actually recorded this album as a six piece) have conjured a majestic blend of cold and grim anthems since we last heard from them.
Recorded in an old church in the countryside of eastern Sweden, the ten track long dark sermon begins furiously with "Ecstasies In Night Infinite". While remaining as lyrically blasphemous as any black metal band can be, "The Howling" feels more like a wild, yet stealthy, run through the night during a great war than a sinister mass. Still, perhaps that war might be between good and evil: so whose side are you on?
With an opening that is sure to get fists pumping and chants of 'hey!' from the crowd, "Serimosa" grooves with glacial textures - smooth and icy. At over seven minutes long, "Before The Cataclysm" is takes listeners to a frozen wasteland, where insanity slowly takes over all who roam there under the full moon. With pounding drums like an anxious heartbeat giving way to a more solemn tone of accepting a grim life sentence, it is a long and haunting journey.
Injecting some elements of gothic metal by way of guest vocalist extraordinaire, Farida Lemouchi, "We Remain" is the candlelit vigil of this album. A point in time where all should rise to their feet and bow their heads in respect to the music. To exit the void Watain has created, "Septentrion" is the last door to pass through with its guitar harmonies casting fiery light against the blackened gates of the abyss. Watch you step on the way out, it's a long fall back down.
The Metal Mayan rating: 5/5
Having played in a black metal band in a past life, I can attest that while I'm not big on every flavor, the bands that balance melody and intensity remain my favorites. Among them, Watain has always been a stand out unit.
Recalling similar vibes from bands such as Satyricon, and Dimmu Borgir, "Serimosa" is definitely a song I would love to hear live. For metalheads that hit the gym, I definitely recommend "The Howling" and "We Remain" for additions to cardio and cool down playlists respectively.
Watain is most famous, or perhaps infamous, for their outrageous live shows that, while not for the faint of heart, must be seen to be believed.
Visit your favorite record store and pick up a copy of The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain, out 29 April on Nuclear Blast.
Advanced copy courtesy of Secret Service PR and Nuclear Blast