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Usually, it is a kind of challenge to listen to an entire album with a length of more than 60 minutes. Honestly speaking, I think that the perfect playtime of a full-length is roughly 45 minutes. In this respect, it is definitely a naughty act that Watain do not care about my opinion. They have written an excessive album of 80 minutes length. But I must admit, they master the challenge in a very clever manner. I am impressed, because Watain seize the moment. What they do is actually simple. "Lawless Darkness" shows a band that gets the best of both worlds. On the one hand, the musicians still have their juvenile energy and their extensive songs are able to convey this restlessness. On the other hand, they have already achieved a very mature level of musicianship and their exuberant creativity does not suffer from childish sensationalism or stubborn decisions. Thanks to these requirements, "Lawless Darkness" turns out to be a milestone in the discography of the Swedish artists. Let us take a deep breath and dive into the magnum opus.
The album holds fascinating details, for instance the opening riff of "Total Funeral". It kicks off one of the most brilliant songs of the full-length, because "Total Funeral" marks a prime example for the ability of the band to combine malignancy and fury outstandingly. This brings me to the core competency of Watain. Irrespective of single details and individual songs, "Lawless Darkness" shines with its sophisticated yet still authentic type of profound viciousness. Inter alia because of the transparent, heavy and voluminous production, the band convinces with majestic and epic song configurations, but also with regard to the gapless overall appearance of the full-length. The three-piece has not yet started to betray the credo of black metal. (All of you who are familiar with "The Wild Hunt" will probably now what I mean.) Although the hype has already begun, the band members do not yet think about seeking new opportunities in order to increase the commercial usability of the name Watain. As a result, "Lawless Darkness" does not flirt with the main stream. It just needs the furious and diversified 14 and a half minutes of "Waters of Ain" in order to overcharge the usual, "non-metallic" listener.
With regard to those who fight for the pure black metal spirit, I admit that the here reviewed album is less hostile and less harsh than, for example, the band's first masterpiece called "Casus Luciferi" from the year 2003. "Lawless Darkness" is not only focused on death and destruction. But, and that's the crucial thing, this does not mean that the three-piece lacks of enthusiasm, spirituality or obsession. Watain are still grounded. The rapid guitar leads, the hymnal parts, the woeful melodies, the atmospheric or wistful sections, the rebellious voice, the unleashed drumming, each and every component oozes black metal from every pore. By the way, it is a comparatively independent form of black metal. One finds a few trace elements of other bands, for example of Celtic Frost at the beginning of "Four Thrones", but overall Watain's sound does not show a specific inspiration. Instead, the band offers a wide range of emotions and plays with the lyrical stereotypes of the sub genre in a skilful manner. Lines like "Beware / The wolves curse" do not push the genre on the next tier. But they fit the musical concept of the band and this is what counts in the end. Anyway, the most outstanding feature is the enormous joy of playing that enables them, among other things, to present a suspenseful instrumental (the title track) of six minutes length. Unfortunately, epic instrumentals without any boring parts are anything else but a matter of course, but I am sure, this is no new information for you. It just confirms the exceptionality of Watain's performance.
Perhaps it is not necessary to mention highlights in view of the consistently high quality. Of course, it is easy to enthrone the monumental "Waters of Ain", because it bundles all the strengths of the album. But giants like "Malfeitor" or "Reaping Death" are no less exciting. They are just shorter and - more or less logically - more compact than the large-formatted closer. "Four Thrones" provides also a very intensive experience, but my personal favourite is still "Total Funeral". Its guitar work and the conjuring chorus remain unrivalled and the same applies for its excellent dynamism. Anyway, "Lawless Darkness" is a more or less flawless work, only the bonus track "Chains of Death" from the Italian clowns called Death SS (most stupid name of all times) meanders on a subordinate level. The other songs reflect the grandeur, splendour, aggressiveness and negativity of the darkest metal genre in all its shady and spooky dimensions. Watain's fourth album gets better and better after each listen and the probably comparatively high budget was profitably used. The sound - as well as the optical design - demonstrates this sustainably. But nobody can deny that the musical creativity marks the greatest advantage of the vehement full-length. This capability cannot be measured in terms of money.
Watain hails from Sweden and, just like most black metal bands that come from this country, they have some influence of death metal in their sound. They’re one of the most known bands of nowadays black metal being a highly influential band. They got most of their notoriety mainly from both the image and ideology they display in their albums and concerts making them a incredible band live. Although what many people may think, the quality of Watain’s music is not behind the quality of their image and this is shown especially in their album “Lawless Darkness”.
As in all other albums released by Watain the production on this one is astonishingly perfect, everything is extremely well balanced and all the instruments are hearable, of course you sometimes end up having some difficulty with the bass in some parts but, if you pay attention, it’s always there and has an important part in the overall sound.
In this album they just overcame their usual songwriting abilities and delivered the most fantastic album they ever created. All instruments do their part to originate a great atmosphere; the guitars are very melodic and work very well together as they progress from riff to riff in a very unique way that characterizes the sound of this band extremely well; the drums are very versatile as they don’t follow the usual “blast all the way” kind of thinking and there is actually a lot of variation and many different rhythms that usually have a lot of fills and rolls in the middle, making the drum work here very far from monotonous and boring. The vocals are just amazing, as always, Daniel’s voice fits the rest of the music perfectly as it’s filled with some incredible anger and viciousness that just grips into your soul.
From the moment this album begins until it ends you’re surrounded by its darkness. The albums has some slow instrumental parts that make you fall deeper into this darkness and just enter into what seems like a trance in which you fall into emptiness and you’re brought into a void just like the one portrayed in the album cover. I believe that this feeling that is brought is the main factor why this album is, without any kind of doubt, Watain’s masterpiece.
Watain, the great Swedish act, has become an icon for the modern black metal scene, upholding the spirit of true black metal with majestic excellency. "Lawless Darkness" is their fourth full-length and follows the melodic approach of black metal showcased in predecessor “Sworn to the Dark”, but it certainly surpasses all of their previous efforts and yeah, “Lawless Darkness” is their opus magnum.
When talking about the music, Watain have always played it darker and sinister. "Lawless Darkness" is not different. The icy cold atmosphere and the frozen fury of dark, cold music shivers the listener like always. What is best about this record? Well, they showed their brilliance over their masters Dissection and proved that the stream of classical Swedish black metal is never gonna dry up.
Okay, the music on this record is just amazing. The guitars are evil and dark, which is usual for the genre. The riffs are excellent on this record. The harmonized rhythm guitar doubles the atmosphere. Another noticeable thing on this record is the solos, which is not very familiar with Watain, but on this record the guitar solos are superb and reach their peaks in tracks like “Malfeitor”, “Kiss of Death”, “Lawless Darkness”, and especially in “Waters of Ain”.
The bass lines are pretty high in the mix and they are quite audible. The bass follows the guitars throughout the album. The drums are flawless and there is a good touch of technicality in the drum tracks. The blasts are inconsistent, but there are rolls and fills frequently that suit the tracks very well.
Not much to say about the vocals. When it comes to the point of black metal vocals, Eric is the MASTER. They are so evil and vicious. Coming to the point of the lyrics, which have always been an important factor for Watain, and this record is no different. The lyrics on this album mainly manifest with black magic and occult themes. The band surely knows what they are up with and invokes that perfectly to the world.
The production may displease many raw black metal fans as the production is polished and pretty nice, but the clear production doesn’t hinder the atmosphere of this album. The use of ambiance appearing in "Malfeitor", "Wolves Curse", "Hymn to Qayin", and "Waters of Ain" take the listener to another dimension.
Watain once again mocks the "showing off" and cheap black metal kids with their mastery of playing. The name "Lawless Darkness" and the cover art describes the record perfectly. It's certainly gonna take the listener to the crypt of ancient darkness.
The overwhelming majority of metal bands will never, ever record a classic album. A handful of them will record one classic, and only one, due to having the right people in the right room at the right time, when the stars are aligned or whatever. Even fewer bands can record two classic albums in their careers. These are the groups we call geniuses. Bands like Amorphis (Elegy/Skyforger) and Candlemass (Epicus Doomicus Metallicus/Candlemass) fall into this category.
Out of that tiny fraction of a fraction, a smaller group still can do it twice (or more) in a row. These are the gods among musicians--Black Sabbath, Metallica, Opeth, Mastodon. You can now add Watain to that list.
After 2007's universally-praised Sworn To the Dark, who would have thought they could actually get any better than they already were? With Lawless Darkness, they've done just that. Sweden's black metal masters have simultaneously dug into their roots and evolved, creating a thrashier, rawer album than before while still managing to be more melodic and more epic.
Their incredible songwriting skills are evident. The dual weapons of all-out assault and melodic subtlety have never been in more capable hands, resulting in tracks both immediate and memorable. Not only that, but it's consistent, and feels like a true album.
The album is significantly longer than its predecessor (by about 15 minutes), but they manage to keep it interesting with tempo changes, interesting rhythms, and great leads and solos. Those with shorter attention spans may think it drags a little bit somewhere between the end of the instrumental title track and the beginning of the incredible closer "Waters of Ain", so there will ever be a dispute about which album is the better (Ride vs. Puppets, anyone?), but classic they both are.
It makes you wonder where such brilliance comes from. Watain would have you believe it's inspiration from the devil himself, enhanced through secret rituals and living in the gore of dead animals. But like many great artists in all media, being really screwed up in the head is probably the source. Van Gogh and Dali, Handel and Tchaikovsky, Hemingway and Dickens: All share the common threads of brilliance and mental illness. Perhaps impetigo mixed with schizophrenia is the key for Watain. In any case, it's brilliant, and the production is excellent too.
The Verdict: Watain has joined the ranks of the very few who consistently create classic records. Lawless Darkness is even better than Sworn to the Dark.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
With every blue moon comes a Watain album… Of course, I was just joking there a while ago, but figuratively speaking, I could say that it really is true. Since 1998, Watain has only released four full-length albums, “Rabid Death’s Curse” (their debut full-length), “Casus Luciferi”, “Sworn to the Dark” and “Lawless Darkness”, which is, no doubt, the band’s fourth album (and their latest one, as of now).
First things first, the songs here have a chorus, and although the songs have a minimalist approach, they play more varied black metal riffs here (but still sinister, of course), which I find as a plus if done right. If there is something I really like here, it’s the unique vocals here, which sound more like a raspy scream, unlike the vocals on “Casus Luciferi”, which definitely sounded raspy. Meanwhile, the drumming here, just like before has moments for some simple 1-2 beats and some moments for some blast beats.
Though the album has a lot of mid-paced moments, especially good (or rather, evil) ones like “Malfeitor”, “Kiss of Death” and “Wolves Curse”, songs like “Death’s Cold Dark”, “Reaping Death” and “Total Funeral” contain a lot of speed too. The title track in this album is a six-minute instrumental, and it isn’t even that black metal, mind you. Despite that, it managed to be eerie enough not to be out of place in this album. Last but not the least; we have here “Waters of Ain”, a song that spans for more than 14 minutes of pure blasphemy and evil. The song has good transitions, speed and brutality (and I mean a lot), and a good ending solo, making it one of the album’s best songs, though the solo isn’t even close on sounding like black metal.
The thing here is that the album has a somewhat polished production. I know that we aren’t in the age of bedroom black metal anymore, you know, but a little crisp and/or a little fuzziness in the production won’t hurt. However, the real issue here is that the album is a “Sworn to the Dark, Part II”. “Lawless Darkness” follows the vein of their last album three years ago, plus some other non-black metal influences. Although I don’t find anything wrong about that, they could at least try a different approach to their music (perhaps adding progressive elements won’t hurt).
Well, even though not a pure black metal album, “Lawless Darkness” still is a great album of its own right. It might not appeal you much at first for its non-“kvlt” tendencies, but try to go with the flow when you listen to this one and feel the grimness within “Lawless Darkness”!
Originally made for http://mystifymyserie.blogspot.com
When I think of Watain, one of the starters of the Orthodox black metal genre, I think of the fact that they have never changed. In almost 12 years, they have never changed. All their records seem to flow together in a sort of mediocre paste that you can lap up and almost enjoy. However, this new record is a lot more deep and meaningful to me in the fact that they turn down Danielsson and the drums and tone up the lead section. It's nice to hear the guitar over his screams for once.
This band has always come off to me as a starter black metal act, in which you listen to them in the beginning, but then ditch them later to listen to black metal that actually has a progressive feel and moves around in their music (ex: Cobalt). I mean, people can only take so much of "O thy dark lord, take my soul for however you so choose!" over and over. It's almost as bad as "Its a small world". I will say that they do better at their monotony then Slayer, but that's not saying much. Now, I'm not saying I hate Watain, nor do I say they're my favorite band. I do like their music, and Casus Luciferi was a great album when I was 15, but now, I can't listen to them for too long.
Lawless Darkness was an album that sort of brought back the sound of Casus Luciferi and spun it around a bit. It was more thrash oriented then Casus, but at the same time, kept the overall feel of the album. I loved the leads in the songs, especially Reaping Death, (Released in April, two months before the actual release of Lawless Darkness) even though the solo was really just guitar wanking and a bunch of higher end power and barre chords. Another thing - What's with bands adding "Funeral" in their song titles for their newest releases? I mean, there is "My Funeral" (Dark Funeral...go figure) and "No Funeral" (Nachtmystium). Now there's "Total Funeral"? It just seems like bands these days have lost their creative juices.
Another thing I noticed about the album is that it was more progressive then the last ones. It didn't focus solely on blast beats and tremolo picking like the earlier releases. Most of the album is very high octane, yes, but much follows a progressive feel. The drums don't just sound like popcorn popping in the microwave, and the guitar doesn't feel like a gradeschooler playing the same 6 notes over and over again. I like that aspect of the release more then anything.
Danielsson's vocals also improved a lot. He is more focused, less screechy. He sounds like he's going to try a more Mortuus (Marduk from Sweden) feel to his vocals. This is a great thing because I was tired of the whole black metal that sounds like a dying cat screaming into a megaphone thing.
There's really not much to say that hasn't been said about Watain, especially since they started going more and more mainstream. Next thing you know they're going to be the next Gorgoroth, so enjoy their semi-unknown-ness while you can, because the second they can get signed to a huge label, it's all over for them.
Highlights: Reaping Death, Lawless Darkness, Waters of Ain