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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.
Having been a fan of Watain for the past decade, I have grown accustomed to the lengthy passage of time that separates each of their releases. So, it was no surprise that the follow-up to 2007's Sworn to the Dark took over three years to rise from the abyss. There was a great deal of anticipation for the new record, and even the promotional campaign was proclaiming that, on 7 June 2010, Black Metal would be reborn. That is a rather bold statement, of course, but it is admirable that the band has such confidence in their abilities. Not long before the release of their fourth full-length album, Lawless Darkness, the Reaping Death E.P. gave us a small taste of what was to come. At the time, I questioned whether or not the brazen proclamation would be proven true, since the only original track on that release did not seem as monumental as they would have you believe. However, looking back, it was a wise move to not put forth the absolute best song as that would have lessened the impact of Lawless Darkness. That said, the song wasn't bad, just not earth-shattering.
The evolution of Watain has been something to behold. In their earliest days, they were putting forth quality material, but it wasn't until 2003's Casus Luciferi that I felt the band had truly arrived. From that point on, I invested a lot of energy to help spread the word of this band, through my radio show and other means. It was very gratifying, in a way, to see them finally begin to get the recognition that they deserved, a few years later. As most could easily tell, with Casus Luciferi, it seemed that their two strongest influences were Mayhem and Dissection. Yet something happened between that album and Sworn to the Dark. With Erik Danielsson's involvement with the resurrected Dissection, it appeared that they were affected and became inspired by this association. With Jon Nödtveidt's death and the dissolution of Dissection, Watain have sort of stepped in to fill that void and carry on in their place. They even adopted Set Teitan. Stylistically, one could see the influence all over Sworn to the Dark, not to say that they totally abandoned their previous path or that it was not a natural progression, but it would be foolish to not acknowledge the change that took place. It may be that this was what they needed to really find their identity. After nearly a decade, the band had come into their own.
What one finds with Lawless Darkness is not so much of a "rebirth of Black Metal", but a rediscovery of some of the key elements that have been lost over time. Rather than stretching the boundaries, they are bringing certain aspects back where they belong. In the 80s, Black Metal was quite diverse, and encompassed a wide variety of sounds. However, with the birth of the Second Wave, a few key components were adopted and then the rest were discarded, for the most part. As time went on, newer bands looked no further than the early 90s, except maybe to take some influence from select albums such as the early Bathory material, and the scope of Black Metal became ever more narrow and closed-off. Some experimented by adding things that did not belong, because they did not possess the background or ambition to fully embrace the Old Ones and all that they represented. Few even bothered to try to understand the sources from which the earliest bands drew their inspiration and, over time, the true meaning became lost or twisted at best.
As with their previous albums, Lawless Darkness was recorded at Necromorbus Studio, under the watchful eye of T. Stjerna, who has worked with the band for many years. Accordingly, the production possesses the same qualities that one would expect from a Watain release. It is raw and gritty enough to still maintain the underground feeling, yet clear enough to allow the listener to hear everything that is going on. The important thing is that it sounds real, not contrived or overproduced and exceedingly modern. Clocking in well over an hour, this record may prove to be tedious for those that have grown accustomed to three-minute songs and albums that barely last more than half an hour. Make no mistake, these songs are not drawn out just for the sake of length, nor are they overly repetitious. They flow quite naturally and they are as long as they are because the material warrants it. To cut the duration of the tracks would be to unnaturally stifle the creativity and to, needlessly, cater to the short attention span of average people. In a sense, this may inadvertently weed out those that should not be listening to the album in the first place.
While there is a somewhat portentous intro, once the instruments can be heard, there are but a few seconds to acknowledge the sense of impending dread before the music bursts forth at full speed. In a way, it hearkens back to the beginning of Rabid Death's Curse, moreso than their recent output. "Death's Cold Dark" shows the band picking up from where the last record left off, with incredibly energetic riffs and a dark, nocturnal feeling permeating the music. The faster sections are contrasted by the mid-paced riffs that allow the gloom to more fully settle in to the mind of the listener. There are subtle melodies in the background that accentuate this feeling on a more subconscious level, aided by certain moments where the bass lines can be heard. From the very first song, a sense of purpose is exuded and one can really sense that the band knows exactly what it is that they are trying to achieve, succeeding well in doing so.
"Malfeitor" begins with a mournful melody that soon transitions to a riff that is reminiscent of Burzum's "Jesu Død". There are somewhat thrashier riffs that are interspersed with the sinister tremolo picking and the haunting lead guitar. The solo manages, somehow, to coil around you and to squeeze a little life out of your body. There is something very bleak and threatening in its sound, bringing a freezing darkness upon the heart of the listener. The arrangement is very dynamic and adds an epic feeling that really shows how the band has developed. As the song progresses, the pace slows down again and another eerie and sorrowful lead solo drains the life from you and begins to drag you deeper toward the eternal grave. The feeling is rather oppressive and hope has long since died, by this point.
The intensity level returns with the next song, "Reaping Death". It wastes no time getting right to the point. Everything comes crashing in from the nothingness, with the listener barely having a moment to mentally focus on the riffs before the vocals rise up and spew venom in all directions. After about a minute of this furious assault, the pace slows down and an eerie atmosphere envelopes the land and the haunting guitar melodies fill enter your veins, like a plague that will rot you from the inside. The abundance of lead solos on this album really adds so much to the atmosphere. The riffs are very much in the typical Watain style and this song would not, at all, be out of place on the previous album. The faster parts include some thrashy riffs and double-kick drums. However, the slower riffs dominate the song, interrupted by an unexpected, yet welcome, lead solo, before the song reaches its conclusion.
This is followed by kind of a weird song. After a slow, almost doom-like intro riff, "Four Thrones" goes into a sort of a strange, twisting riff that reminds one of Mayhem's "Life Eternal", in a sense. There are brief tremolo riffs that hearken back to Casus Luciferi, and it would have been nice if they were a bit more dominant, throughout the song. Speaking of that album, songs like this remind me of the superior production that it had, as the drumming wasn't quite as easy to hear, which would have rendered such excessive double-bass as is found here less noticeable. Complaints aside, this is a fine track, it's just that the aforementioned tremolo riffs show a level of potential that the song fails to reach, based on my own personal preferences. As the song progresses, other riffs distract from the drumming and elevate the track.
"Wolves Curse" is an epic piece, outlasting all of the band's previous songs, up to this point, lasting nine minutes. It begins with an intro that consists of nocturnal sounds and the howling of wolves, as well as an acoustic guitar reminiscent of Bathory. Haunting melodies create an absolutely pitch-black feeling as the rhythm carries you forward on a journey toward utter damnation. This shows that, in the hands of skilled musicians, dark melodies can be wielded to craft an atmosphere that is beyond words. This really seemed to develop on Sworn to the Dark, and has come to fruition here. The down-tempo sections, later in the song, really give the feeling that you have gone too far: there is no turning back. By the end, tremolo riffs join in to accentuate the atmosphere, rather than being the primary focus.
Next up is the instrumental track, "Lawless Darkness". From the very beginning, the feeling is sorrowful and introspective. Strangely, there are ever-so-fleeting moments where one can almost sense hope, yet it is swiftly extinguished. At times, the melodies seem to reach into your chest and squeeze your heart to the point where you feel it may stop beating altogether. The piece brings to mind the title track from Dissection's Reinkaos, at certain points. In similar fashion, it is entirely appropriate that there are no lyrics to accompany the music, as these bleak and spectral melodies need nothing more to convey such a morbid feeling.
"Total Funeral" picks the pace up, and possesses much more energy. You can really hear the determination bleeding through, as this is a band that is fully confident in their abilities. By this point, it is apparent that a lot of thought went into the arrangement of the tracks,; rather than being a mere collection of songs, everything is precisely placed to form a cohesive album. There is almost a bit of a Hellhammer vibe in one of the early riffs. The refrain is somehow unexpected, yet perfectly suits the atmosphere. In the latter half, the dark feeling comes back and begins to devour your soul once more, with another hypnotic and mournful solo. It is rather brief before the pace picks back up, and yet another solo follows. This is kind of reminiscent of how Bathory sounded on Scandinavian Metal Attack, before sacrificing some of their atmosphere for speed.
Next is "Hymn to Qayin", which is a faster song in the vein of Casus Luciferi, with the wicked tremolo riffs and the dismal bass lines. Watain does not utilize this approach as much as I would like, but it is prevalent enough during this song to satisfy, to an extent. There are several tempo changes, as the band is known for, yet still the feeling of the old albums is a bit more evident on this track. Some passages sound more traditional, yet are seamlessly blended in with the rest, adding to the depth of the song. The same can be said for much of the record. Late in the song, another epic section gives the feeling that you are entering Hell.
"Kiss of Death" continues from where the previous song left off, and it really is evident how well the band has defined their sound as, even without the vocals it would be so obvious who this is, based on the style of riffs alone. The feeling is occult, dreary and nocturnal, building a sense of trepidation in the listener. The song is as dynamic as those that precede it, but moments of speed are brief and subdued. The lead solo, as with most others on this record, is very epic and dismal at the same time, suffocating the spirit with melancholy. It's a shame that so many Black Metal bands have ignored the usefulness of guitar solos, for so many years. In attempting to strip things down so far, they've abandoned something that can do so much to benefit the song. A dozen bands abusing their keyboards cannot possibly hope to compare to even one well-executed solo. The song ends with a somber acoustic piece that drags you down ever deeper into nothingness, as the closing riffs drive you deeper into the ground. This serves well to lead into the magnum opus of the record.
This monumental record closes with "Waters of Ain", which may be one of the most ambitious Black Metal songs since Venom's "At War With Satan". It starts out with an intro that is very similar to the instrumental, "Withershins", from Sworn to the Dark and it's brilliant that the band did not forget this ominous piece and managed to expand on this theme, in a way. Watain has always shown a penchant for ending their albums with a lengthy and epic song, with this one lasting fourteen and a half minutes. Much like "Stellarvore", on the previous record, this one is meant to leave the listener with the best possible impression. Once getting beyond the intro section, the song is pretty fast-paced, but still varied and never missing a step. Again, it is clear that they have perfectly worked in older elements of the style and made it blend in very well. After about five minutes, an acoustic piece, reminiscent of Dissection, leads into a guitar solo that slithers around your body like a serpent and begins to take you firmly in its grasp, soon to deliver you to the desolate grave where your entire existence shall come to an end, where you will be forever lost to ageless horrors. This is rather brief, as more dark tremolo riffs return to carve your flesh to pieces. A feeling of urgency takes hold, as the song descends to a deeper level of utter oblivion. The thrashy riffs are left behind, and all that remains is darkness and a bleak atmosphere of dread. Soon, more melodic riffs take you across the dark waters, away from these damned shores, as the mournful melodies lead you on. Never is there a moment where you even think to look back, as this is what you have always wanted. It may not have been known to you before yet, deep down, this is your most primal desire. Your arms open wide, embracing death and the release it brings. The end that you've so long sought after is finally here. Not just an end or an escape, but an opportunity to transcend this feeble existence and to never return. The lead solo and accompanying melody is beautiful in a dark and majestic way, yet it signifies the murdering of your spirit and the end that is now upon you. And in this thought, there is peace. As you are shrouded in the epic sounds, you fall away and begin your descent into pure nothingness. In a brief moment, you see clearly that only one thing is worth pursuing in this foul and disgusting existence: death. As the music fades, eerie sounds are left behind, lending a sense of finality to the proceedings.
A lot of bands begin to stray from their path, after a few albums, or their material simply lacks the quality of their past work. In this case, as I long ago accepted that the band would not recreate Casus Luciferi, there was less potential for disappointment. However, the fact is that they exceeded my expectations. Lawless Darkness is a product of over a decade of musical development, yet the band has maintained their course and remained true to their vision. This album is quite an accomplishment, and shows what musicians are capable of when they strive for greatness, rather than settling for mediocrity. This comes highly recommended. It may be a bit much for some people to wrap their heads around, but you have to be willing to invest time and energy into the experience. Lawless Darkness is an incredible record and, if the band were to cease to exist tomorrow, they would have left behind a legacy that would be remembered for years to come.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com (Dec. 2010)
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
According to Watain, June 7th is supposed to have been the day of black metal's rebirth. And although their words should not always be taken lightly, Watain are known just as much for their passion as they are for their big talk. Maybe it's all just theatrics, but nonetheless, having spent the last week listening to the band's latest offering, Lawless Darkness, this reporter finds himself skeptical that this album is a rebirth of anything other than outdated 1980's traditional metal, painted black.
Structurally, these songs are more in line with Watain's earlier work on Rabid Death's Curse and Casus Luciferi, both of which, it should be noted, are excellent black metal albums. The songs, like those of many Swedish bands, are variations on the verse-chorus idea, but each major region of the song is buffered by transitional riffing, and sometimes split in two by a longer breakdown section. While the music is very well-written, many individual riffs themselves would not sound out of place on a later Judas Priest album, and no amount of minor-key layered melody lines will change that. This is in no way a bad thing (who doesn't love Priest?), but does that really make this a black metal album?
Genre discrepancies aside, it doesn't seem like all that much creativity is present in the core of the music, many of the phrases being slightly uninspired, or just throwbacks of riffs we already heard countless times from countless, "obscure" '80's black metal bands. Watain pull many of their well-known tricks out of the bag, but there's very little innovation happening on the microcosmic scale of riff construction, which all in all adds up to a simplistic and simple-minded album. That's not to say there's nothing good here; "Hymn to Qayin" presents some hair-raising neoclassical melodic lines, and "Waters of Ain" is certainly ambitious in scale, clocking in at over fourteen minutes, making it the band's longest song by far. The band's first instrumental, "Lawless Darkness," is a highlight as it gives an idea of what this band might sound like if they weren't constrained by lengthy lyrical tracts.
Despite some good moments, the album as a whole fails to be super-interesting, so it's not out of our league here to make some superficial complaints. For one, many of the guitar solos (!) sound out place, and usually serve to destroy whatever atmosphere may have been present before they appear, and add to the traditional heavy metal nature of this album. There is even a blues break in "Wolves Curse," likely a reference to early Tiamat (actually, this album is full of easter eggs), and the end of "Waters of Ain" consists of several minutes of rock-and-roll masturbation before fading out. In terms of production, this is like a more over-the-top Sworn to the Dark. Lawless Darkness has that fresh and clean production that wants to sound ugly, but can't match that grinding, suffocating tone that complemented the band's earlier works so perfectly.
And while it's not for this writer to say that Sworn to the Dark was all bad, this album is certainly a step backward for Watain. Not only that, it's proof positive that you can have unlimited passion, but a lack of consistent musical direction almost always results in failure somewhere along the line. Watain haven't completely succumbed to rock-stardom and bland music yet, but they are certainly on their way there, and Lawless Darkness may very well be their first major stepping stone.
(Originally published at http://www.examiner.com/x-20872-LA-Metal-Music-Examiner)
In recent years there arose such a clatter in the Swedish metal underground. That cacophony is known as the “Orthodox Black Metal movement”, a group of bands that have but one purpose, it seems; bringing the music and the Satanic lyrical themes back to what it’s supposed to be. Apparently (at least from what I’ve seen) sickened by the conditions of black metal in this day and age, groups like FUNERAL MIST, OFERMOD, DEATHSPELL OMEGA, and ANTAES (a French band, but they count) are hell-bent on bringing blackened wares back into the inky depths of oblivion, all the while channeling a different take on blasphemy (the former two bands actually evoking Biblical wickedness versus two-dimensional Satanism). All this rambling makes sense, believe it or not…many would put this WATAIN band in the same Orthodox vein, and some would consider them the biggest band in the scene, if not the best big Swedish black metal act. That’s quite a claim from their fan base, and since I’d not heard anything of theirs at all I figured it was high time to see just what WATAIN has to offer.
Let’s see if this darkness truly IS lawless…
Well, I’ll say this…when it comes down to what it is rather than what it should be the new WATAIN is a pretty nifty, wicked piece of work. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d up being really into them, given some rather unflattering media comments by singer Erik Danielsson and a net comment claiming that the band “sold out” (ha!…yeah, OK, sure…), but I was proven wrong. If you want black metal, and I mean BLACK FUCKING METAL, then this here new WATAIN album should satisfy your hunger for all that is Satanic and violent, where the combination of slashing, chaotic guitar riffs, punishing percussive abuse and death march commanding vocals push the music into realms of endless damnation and insanity. They may be from Sweden, but there is a decidedly Norwegian twinge to the musical approach, kicking any preconceived notions on how a Swedish black metal band should sound right to the curb. And when it comes to said music you get brutality, wickedly slow drawls, nary a ray of light, and an eerie vibe that reminds this listener of hordes of bloodthirsty spirits storming from the fiery planes to lay waste to all that is worthless and weak (after dropping down and giving them twenty, thanks to that damn pledge pin…ON THEIR UNIFORMS!). Such is the way of life for this here “Lawless Darkness”, and the likes of “Death‘s Cold Dark”, “Reaping Death”, and “Wolves Curse” showcase a band totally into their unholy mission and nothing, NOTHING, will stop them.
All in all the new WATAIN totally surpassed expectations on my end. I can totally see myself coming back to this time and again for any black metal itches I may have from here ‘til Judgment Day. Guess this whole Orthodox black metal thing is an ungodsend after all. Enjoy to your blackened hearts’ content, damn you!
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