Review WATAIN ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain’

Heavy metal stands, amongst other things, for a rebellious spirit and provocation. A band that lives up to these attributes in excellent fashion is Watain. The Swedish black metal powerhouse has started their diabolic journey in 1997 in the greater Stockholm area and has a fanbase all around the globe.

As often, the third album has been the decisive release. It was the ‘Sworn to the Dark’ album that has been the springboard for the black metal squad, followed by the ‘Lawless Darkness’ release which helped the band to finally establish themselves as a strong player on the fields of black metal.

Watain didn’t spoil fans with a lot of releases. It always takes a while before a next longplayer waits behind the corner to be unleashed. This spring is the right the time for Watain to unleash a new longplayer called ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain’. It’s the band’s first release for Nuclear Blast and it is the anticipated deep bite with riffs that are like a cut into flesh, music that leaves scars.

‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain’ is the seventh studio album from the Swedish black metal force and it underlines the status the band achieved over time. Fueled by ten smashing songs, the record shows a lot of versatility. There are raging songs like ‘The Howling’ and ‘Funeral Winter’ as well as the pure musical inferno called ‘Ecstasies in Night Infinity’. The latter is the extremely furious start into the album and although the pace is racing fast, Watain always stay in control and never get passed by their own given speed.

To amplify tension, the band has songs like the moderately paced ‘Serimosa’ on the album. The song entails a hellish grin and the hammering rhythm, together with Danielsson’s hoarse voice create a goosebump-atmosphere. Evil almost creeps out of the speakers while this song infects listeners with its diabolic spirit.  

Although feeling home in high pace and blast beats, Watain manage to create an atmosphere that has the potential to put a spell on listeners. Great songwriting skills are the base for songs like the epic ‘Before the Cataclysm’. This blackened ode has a running time of seven minutes and the is no second of boredom when listening to it. Breaks and well-crafted hooks do their job.

The most unexpected song on the album is entitled ‘We Remain’. This diabolic hymn shows a different aspect of Watain while keeping the blackened spirit alive. Slow pace and a lot of emotions create a sinister atmosphere that is more intense than what a lot of the high-speed tracks offer. ‘We Remain’ starts almost cinematic and what acts as a first surprise are the female vocals. Former The Devil’s Blood singer Farida Lemouchi joined forces with Watain and the result is a real highlight on the album. Driven by a slow and steady beat, the tune evolves to hypnotizing anthem. The song proves that black metal is more than speed and high pace. The atmosphere and darkened energy of this tune comes right from the hellfire with flames being as hot as they are fascinating. It’s like listening to a song while the gates of hell open and swallow everything that comes too close.

‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain’ is a mature album, penned by a band that is known for their non-conformity and provocation. Watain don’t claim to be everybody’s darling. The band follows their own and self-chosen path. These guys fascinate through provocation and in way that is also what metal stands for. ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain’ is surely no mainstream and at the same time has the potential to reach a wider group of metalheads. Horns up.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. Ecstasies in night infinite
  2. The Howling
  3. Serimosa
  4. Black
  5. Leper’s
  6. Not sun nor man nor god
  7. Before the Cataclysm
  8. We Remain
  9. Funeral Winter
  10. Septentrion

Label: Nuclear Blast

Genre: Black Metal

Release Date EU: April 29th, 2022

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Photo: Evelina Szczesik

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