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Tasteful, but flawed - 85%

burnoutfool, June 7th, 2010

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