Thursday, August 15, 2013

Watain: "The Wild Hunt"

This has to be my most anticipated album of the it has mammoth expectations to live up to. It's worth the wait, a masterful creation, the scope of what this album encompasses is going to have fans of black metal pretty divided. I not even sure it's a black metal album by most metal head's definition of the genre, but Erik clearly doesn't care. If he did the band would not have the scale of growth shown here.

It starts off with an intro track called "Night Vision" that's only a minute and a half worth  of an actual instrumental, that could have been tagged onto "De Profundis" though doing so might have diminished the bang it explodes to life with. It is bigger in production, but keeps things at the frenzied pace you would expect from Watain, though almost more death metal in feel than black metal, as they deviate from the blast beats and the song is more snarl than sonic, at time even thrashy. Not that Lawless Darkness did not have all of those qualities to production just magnifies them to epic proportions here.  The song suceedes at being heavy and does so in a manner that has a genuine enough feel to avoid the Behemoth like mall metal.

The album gets even better on "Black Flames March" it slows slightly taking on more of a black metal darkness. The chant of backing vocals joins in as the chug gets tighter and more epic, before an almost Dimmu like breakdown section, that I'm unsure how it will be pulled off live but it does help expands the songs dynamic, it doesn't stop here as dynamic shifts get greater as the album progresses. this song has enough  rotting meat to it's stomp that I think long time fans will still be able to hang with it.

One thing about the production, that works for me but the too cvlt for school kids might balk at is the vocals are often drenched in effects and the guitars are heavily layered and produced, there's none of the Varg give me the shittiest mic you find necro production here. the first single " All That May Bleed" benefits from all of these factors, the riffs are tough enough to nail Christ back onto the cross. There is still a Dissection influence here, but Erik's vocals are more fine tuned here. The attention to detail on this album is impressive from execution to phrasing. Erik's bass playing isn't too shabby either there a nice melodic run at the end of this song and I'm a fan of any time you can hear the bass in black metal or any metal , as black metal becomes a matter of counting straws.

The argument against this album being black metal stands up on " This Child Must Die" the vocal whisper  reminds me once again of Dimmu, though overall they have not dramatically changed , the signatures of their sound are intact, its just scrawled with many different colors of ink. Erik stays in his raspy croak, and the guitars pass the melodies off behind him.

Things begin to take a dramatic shift when the album reaches "They Rode On" , while having intreveiwed Erik myself, I have been aware that Fields of the Nephillim has been an influence on him and Carl McCoy is even on the song "Waters of Ain , but this gets the spot light shone on it , as the song is a dark brooding ballad. The song is entirely  clean sung, I haven't seen the liner notes on this one yet but I'm willing to bet the female harmony vocals that pop up are Farida from Devil's Blood. The guitar solos are the hair blowing back foot on the monitor variety for true rock gods and are really beautiful. I have heard a lot of people who don't know who Fields of the Nephillim are try to call this folk metal or compare it to the Unforgiven. There is no way around the fact while its odd for it to be the centerpiece of the album, its a great song and these guys are ace musicians to pull it off.

To off set the power ballad it's followed by "Sleepless Evil" the most pounding song on the album, that doesn't let up on the jack hammer skull fucking until a piano break at the two minute mark , they creep it out for a bit before blasting back at you. The title track lurches back into a slower pace and clean vocals return here , though they are darker moans and whispers at first. The raspier croak narrates their version of Paradise Lost before the choral swell of layered vocals comes in. The fact all the melodic experimentation is all so haunting is what enables them to pull it off so well.  The clean vocals reach a little higher for the brass ring as the song builds. They are not trying to be Opeth or even Shining for that matter , staying much rougher around the edges. If you are a guitarist you must own this album the playing is very tasteful. The flamenco guitar comes out of no where to end it.

"Outlaw" rolls right in with a dark chant leading the tight riffing before they go to familiar blasting territory you have been waiting almost the whole album for , but they have taken you on such a journey you for that was what you show up to the dance for , so it's much more effective. The riffs still retain a thrash feel to them. The Drumming has stepped it up to the next level on this album and are thundering. The solo at the three minute mark is the first place I hear any Metallica influence.

"Ignem Veni Mittere" returns to clean guitar at the intro but is followed by a classic thrash chug, the soloing on this somewhat Ride the Lightning era Metallica, while I'm not big on instrumentals, this one wins me over and has enough dynamics to keep my attention.  The solo that lurks behind a cavern of reverb is pretty fucking cool and has a chilling tone. Metal Guitarists take note the bar has been raised.

While My version has a bonus track, for the purposes of this review I'll call "Holocaust Dawn" the closer. It stays pretty close to what you would want from Watain. The guitars are extra melodic , once again they summon up a tangible darkness.

If you are not of the close minded  variety of metal heads who don't have anything that's not brutal enough even at the risk of all the songs sounding them same, then you will be able to embrace this as the next bold step forward for the band, there is a lot of growth for the band, so much they have out grown the constrictions of the being black metal, I'll give this album a 10 as every song works for and might just has edged out Voi Vod and Altar of Plagues as being the metal album of the year. See the whole review I restrained by fan boy adoration and was objective as possible though once it grows on me I might even round it up to an 11.


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