Review Summary: Lawless Indeed.
It's 90 degrees outside my dwelling. The sun is shining hard and the choking mugginess of a Michigan summer is in full effect. But you wouldn't know that standing in my dorm. Frost covers the windows, drifts of snow accumulate in the corners, and I'm burning my furniture in an effort to appease the pagan gods of old. My wolf skin is drenched in blood and I can only speak in incantations.
This is the experience one might have while listening to Lawless Darkness, the newest offering from Swedish black metal group Watain. The groups relentless throwback sound has earned them a cover spot on Decibel magazine, and more then a few mentions in other publications for their penchant of throwing blood on their audiences during live shows. But while theatrics may be a big part of what makes black metal, it means almost next to nothing if the music isn't as evil as the image.
And evil music is where Watain delivers. Lawless Darkness, while not being a magnum opus or genre redefining, is still a great record and showcases the raw unrestrained power of black metal. It's well produced but not overpolished, the guitars sound creepy and the drums pound like the hammer of Thor. Even the distorted bass can be heard making slight movements beneath the foundation of the music. The band conjures the sounds of armies marching, of wolves running through fields, towns being burned and eternal night blanketing the sky.
The album is straight ahead charging into battle for nearly its entirety, which some may enjoy, but it would be nice to see them explore slower tempos. I'm sure it wouldn't be hard for them to pull off a funeral doom song if they tried. But the slower parts that do exist contrast well with the fast bits. The end of Malfeitor exhibits this perfectly. The song spends most of its duration being an exercise in full speed chaos, but opens up with a decrease in speed and a deliciously epic lead guitar part. The longer tracks like Wolves Curse also have some doomy bits. Meanwhile, Total Funeral has an opening riff that recalls Venom, and an interesting drum part beneath it, while Reaping Death has an opening riff that could be, in a different context, be heard in a garage rock band a la Be Your Own Pet.
Overall Lawless Darkness is a great record despite the lack of variety. It shows promise, and in a world where most people watch Immortal's music videos and laugh, and think of Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir when they hear the words black metal, there is a need for a band like Watain to bring the bite and balls back. So if you're looking for an album to burn *** down to, look no further.
Standout Tracks: Malfeitor, Wolves Curse, Total Funeral,