The Wild Hunt
19 August 2013
You don’t need to mention the name Watain to many headbangers to conjure up a range of divisive opinions ranging from the nothing-more-than-a-Dissection-tribute accusers, to the fanatical shit-your-pants best-black-metal-band-in-the-world fanboys. There’s no question that the black metal trio have made a name for themselves; they’ve carved out their position within the genre’s elite, so to speak, on the back of hard graft and infamous live performances – a veritable orgy of pigs’ blood, Satan and a shitload of fire.
Whilst the Swedes have relished taking up a large glare of the spotlight, they have arguably struggled to release anything that truly lived up to the whirl of hysteric fan worship bestowed upon them. Sure, both 2007’s Sworn To The Dark and 2010’s Lawless Darkness were channelling the genre’s ethical as well as aesthetical lifeblood vigorously, but these outputs hardly reinvigorated the genre’s modus operandi beyond being something of half-decent second wave repetitions. Reproduction over reinvention, the three-piece still imitated the legends that had shaped the platform they raged from. But if, up until now, Watain had merely been cast in the shadow of the likes of Mayhem, Dissection and Bathory, then The Wild Hunt is the album that is worthy of the internet forum fapping and hyperbole. It’s a monster.
Let’s kick off by nailing it in the post and saying that this album sounds fuckin’ huge. The drums are cavernous and verge on stadium levels of majesty, and the riffs barbed and chaotic. Every intricate idea is cohesive and free-flowing; this is a presentation of raw black metal craftsmanship and yet still, it sounds polished. The moody opener, ‘Night Visions’ paints an atmospheric and tense introduction into ‘De Profundis’ which explodes with one of the most intense apocalyptic blasts you’ll hear this side of Hell. Its earth-shattering violence sets the tone throughout perfectly.
There are so many black metal musical threads weaved into The Wild Hunt. From the dizzying technical muscle reminiscent of Emperor, to the heroic galloping of Bathory, right on through to those little riffs that catch in the lug’ole and strike thoughts along the lines of “Oh, cheeky, that is so IX Equilibrium…”, all the familiar suspects are here. That is until you reach the album’s grandiose centrepiece: ‘They Rode On’. Yes, they’ve only gone and whipped out a pure lighter-in-the-air ballad. Daring? Most definitely, and that, along with the reasons above, is why they will go on to capture the hearts of even the most staunchly-opposed patch jacket, car-park metalhead. The Wild Hunt will be considered Watain’s Black Album.
Sounds Like: The second-wave black metal you’ve wanted to hear since 1999…finally.
Standout Tracks: De Profundis, All That May Bleed, They Rode On’