Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Watain - Lawless Darkness

Lawless Darkness
Season of Mist

Scandinavian black metal is almost like harmless, if ugly, wallpaper at this point – I mean, you know exactly what to expect from it, don’t you? Bug-eyed blasphemy spit out of throats coated in nails, a wall of guitars so dirty they sound like the strings were dipped in diarrhea, Iron Maiden melodies taken in the back room and gang raped, general kick drum abuse. It’s all so ho-hum. So it’s a pleasant surprise (well, not pleasant, but you know what I mean) to hear Nordic black metal sound so refreshed, like it had a great night’s sleep after a moribund night of defiling churches and goat sex. Lawless Darkness, the fourth LP from Swedish trio Watain, doesn’t reconceive black metal in the slightest. But it does sound like fresh coats of desecration and slime were applied.

P’s raging riffs sound absolutely filthy, but the basement window through with the chords rip is open, letting every grimy note hit home like a bullet. H’s blastbeats actually ride a groove, instead of splattering all over the damn place, giving the music a firm foundation of ominous thunder. Frontdevil E howls ‘n’ growls with hellacious purpose, as articulate as any beast spawned in the pits of Hades can be when given human form. (If you’ve ever seen him live, you’ll notice he’s got the mic-stand twirling rock star thing going on as well, which is something to see when he’s wearing corpse-paint.) Malfeitor, Wolves Curse (complete with howling canines in the background, which somehow doesn’t come off cheesy) and Reaping Death rip, shred and defecate with the best of ‘em, and the epic Waters of Ain maintains a level of fascinatingly malevolent brutality over the course of nearly 15 minutes. Watain doesn’t reinvent the wheel on Lawless Darkness, but it certainly spins it faster and more efficiently than any other demon has done in a long, long time.

- Michael Toland
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