For me, Watain are the epitome of Black Metal, they are pure aggression, ambient, and moody but above all else, there has always been conviction in their music. You know they believe in what they write about. I enjoy music a lot more if a band can make me as a listener, believe that they believe or stand behind what they are writing about, and with Watain, there is no second-guessing. You know they mean business.
Watain are back with The Agony & Ecstasy of.. their 7th studio album and this is a punch in the face or the petrol on the fire that the Black Metal world needs. This album is aggressive and intense, just as their fans expect, and throughout their endeavor to create brutal and threatening music, there is no clarity lost in their sound. Everything is crystal clear but, on each listen, I find more layering in the music, little guitar or bass melodies like in the doom-laden We Remain, there is always more to find and take from their music. Where the music may slow down in pace, it makes up for in mood or atmosphere, it never feels or sounds less intense regardless of what they are playing.
The two singles released for this album are The Howling and Serimosa, good choices that show off the two moods of the album. The Howling reminds me of Lawless Darkness sort of riffing, a good Black N Roll vibe, whereas Serimosa has a more ambient reverb sound, and the Bassline and Kick pattern really drives home that rhythm at the heart of the song. This album has made incredible use of reverb, the drums sound massive! It is a classic Watain sound, I’ve always enjoyed how their drums sound on an album. The mixing of the guitar and bass is a classic Black Metal sound with the use of tremolo guitars and colder sounding bass holding it all together and providing you ample chance to get into a Black N Roll mood to headbang along from start to finish.
My personal favourites off this album are We Remain and Septentrion. These two stood out just for the epic sounds the tracks provide. We remain is a slower doomier piece featuring guest vocals from Farida Lemouchi, who is the voice of The Devil’s Blood, a band that influences Watain, also another band that practices what they preach, definitely check them out! It reminded me of how They Rode On fit into Wild Hunt, it has a completely different sound to other tracks, a complete darkened affair. Where it lacks the pace and ferocity of other tracks on this album, the intensity and atmosphere are kept evident. Septentrion, the album ender brings it home amazingly, this epic track should be played loud for you to fully immerse yourself in the music. I hope this one makes the live set; it would be incredible on the stage.
Watain live shows are just as dangerous as their music sounds, not in a physical sense but from the gigs that I’ve been to see them, they do incredibly well at proving their conviction and message in their music, it’s animalistic, the feeling they provoke in the audience. The Agony and Ecstasy of.. is quite a fitting name given that these guys most likely went through both of these stages whilst writing this album and they will bring this energy to their live performance and the crowd will have the same feelings. With an already incredible catalogue of material, this album only adds fuel to the fire!