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Posted - 05/27/2010 : 03:37:07
|I've been anticipating this album with mixed feelings for some time now. I've been a fan of Watain's since before they fucking blew up on the black metal scene with 2007's Sworn to the Dark. SttD was a bit of an enigma for me, just because it was so dissimilar to previous Watain albums, really lost the sound I was used to; however, I still enjoyed it well enough, but since 2008 when everybody discovered it, it's just been so overplayed that I can't even listen to it anymore. Which, in all honesty, has led me to realize that, well, this band is just really good at making catchy riffs that sound a lot like Dissection. Except Dissection was SO much better at it.
Anyways, Watain has been promoting the fuck out of this new album, with the caption "June 7th, Black metal will be reborn." I'm naturally inclined to be intrigued. So, bastard that I am, I pirated this shit earlier today and I've already listened to it twice in its entirety.
Opinion: This album starts off really fucking strong. First two songs are great, 'Malfeitor' kicks some ass and has some sick-nasty guitar solos. The next one is the single that they already released a while ago, 'Reaping Death', which I find to be a sub-par track. Not necessarily bad, but doesn't hold my attention for very long. The next track 'Four Thrones' is a bit better, but nothing really astounding. At the very least they mix it up a bit in this one. Although I have to say the "Hail Lucifer" chants are, in modern parlance, fucking stupid. Next song, 'Wolves Curse' might be the low point on the album. The beginning is a pretty given indicator: wolves howling. How much more fucking clichee can you get? This song is, as somebody else actually just put it to me, overbearingly generic. Plus, skeets in a black metal song? SKEETS?! Seriously Watain? Pointer: that shit sounds fucking stupid! Maybe if you hadn't thrown the chugs in right before it, it would've sounded alright. I have no qualms with unorthodox power chords, but that was just asking for criticism.
The next song is where they really lose me. That's 'Lawless Darkness' the title track of the album. I was expecting something very exuberant for the title track of the album. And it starts off promisingly enough, and morphs into a pretty tasty guitar solo. And then the first main riff comes in and I'm ready for the vox and speed to kick in. Alas, another guitar solo comes in. Kind of a "what the fuck" moment for me here. I still hold some hope for the rest of the song, before I finally realize: this, the title track of the song, is just a 6-minute track of guitar solos backed by a mid-paced, to at points almost a doom-paced rhythm. This is a HORRIBLE idea in my opinion. I think this is going to leave a lot of people very displeased, myself among them.
The next two songs, 'Total Funeral' and 'Hymn to Qayin', are an improvement from the previous songs, and even throw in a wah padel on some lead guitar parts, which I am a sucker for and think is used not nearly enough in black metal. 'Hymn to Qayin' throws in some very catchy lead riffs and is for me a main contender for best song on the album along with 'Malfeitor.'
After that, you guessed it, things go downhill once again. Again, they bust out a skeet followed by chugs for the intro. The first couple seconds into it I thought I was about to hear a metalcore song. The main riffs in the album sound extremely familiar - unfortunately, it's fairly bland and repetitive. The one positive thing in this song is the bass-work is more extensive than usual in Watain songs, and the drummer mixes it up fairly well. That doesn't save this song though. The solo in this song is fairly well-done, however the progression that it takes I'm not particularly fond of. Of course that's entirely a matter of opinion - it's well done for the song itself. For some reason, after that, they continuously go back into their hardcore and metalcore styled riffs....and even throw in a breakdown, which just sounds totally ridiculous. I understand taking a riff and slowing it down in black metal. But taking an already groove-oriented black metal riff (which only even sounds like black metal at all because of the production) and breaking it down EVEN MORE...this completely loses me. And don't take me as someone who hates breakdowns; I love me a nasty slam riff, break it down even more, sounds fucking sick. But the context this is used in is just totally absurd to me.
'Waters of Ain' is this album's obligatory 14 minute ending song, and it's also one of the better songs on the album. It stays pretty solid most of the way through with some nice clean guitar intro and interludes. I particularly enjoy the second half of the song, where very slow-paced guitar solo plays over top of the already slow guitars and vocals; after the vocals fade out and do some sort of incomprehensible spoken part over clean guitar, the distortion kicks back in again and another guitar solo comes in. This solo reminds heavily of an Iron Maiden solo with some pretty awesome dual harmonics. The guitarist busts out some pretty unexpected bluesy scales, which I thought was a nice surprise touch. The music just fades out slowly into an ambient synth sound; the ending is very strong.
FINAL VERDICT: This album is by no means terrible. It is also by no means anything exceptional. BLACK METAL REBORN? Edit: BLACK METAL RE-HASHED. There is nothing new about this. There is nothing overly impressive about it either - just like in Sworn to the Dark, it's a veritable Dissection rip-off. Not necessarily a bad thing, but also in no way an original concept. The problem is, this album starts off really strong, and also ends really strong. But the middle is just...well, I don't know what they were thinking. It didn't work out very well though. I'm sure there will be plenty of fan-boys who will disagree with everything I've just said. I don't care. Ultimately, this album fails to live up to the extreme hype it's been getting; this is nothing I didn't expect. I think I have a much better, more fitting name for this album though -
SWORN TO THE DARK PART II - SWORN TO JON NÖDTVEIDT