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Kult Reviews: Watain - Lawless Darkness

In recent years, black metal has either become a complete parody of itself or, even worse, filled with copy-cat bands with absolutely no originality or musical integrity. How many bands are out there that call themselves black metal just because they threw on some face paint and decorate their shirts with inverted crosses? I think the answer is obvious. If you’re looking for an antidote to superficial black metal, I’d recommend checking out Sweden’s Watain.

For over 10 years, the Uppsala horde—vocalist and bassist Erik Danielsson, drummer Håken Jonsson and guitarist Pelle Forsberg—have been forging their own black metal magic with the intention of taking over the world. Three years after Sworn to the Dark and after months out on the road on their Fuck the World tour, Watain will return this June with the highly anticipated Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist).

The group’s fourth full-length is without a doubt their best release to date. Watain masterfully incorporates dense melodies to add to the black atmosphere, which is evident in songs such as “Malfeitor,” “Total Funeral,” the title track…and just about every song on here. If you’re looking for blast beats in your black metal, you’re going to be utterly disappointed. One of my favorite aspects about Lawless Darkness is the overall old-school and traditional metal vibe in the rhythms and groove. It almost feels like a classic Dissection record. “Waters of Ain,” the album’s closer, is the band’s longest song in their catalog (coming in at 14-and-a-half minutes) and distills the group’s sound perfectly: epic, dark and full of evil. It’s sort of like Watain’s version of Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

Lawless Darkness is a black metal album in every sense of the term. It’s an album that doesn’t restrict itself to the preconceived notion of what black metal is or should be. At its core, black metal is about breaking away from tradition and invoking serious evil onto society. Simply put, Watain is black metal. —Henry Yuan

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