Label: Season Of Mist/Century Media
Release Date: 19 August, 2013
We’ve all had that feeling when you go to watch the most anticipated movie of the year. You go with a bunch of friends; all excited with the premier show ticket clutched so tightly it practically fuses with your hand. You sit through the whole movie absorbing every scene with the utmost concentration. After the movie everything is fine as you head home until you’re struck with an epiphany, the movie sucked! This is what happened when I listened to the new album The Wild Hunt by Watain.
Watain is a Swedish black metal band hailing from Uppsala. Formed in 1998, they have been very active in the scene since their early days and have hence amassed a following across Europe and the US. Since their debut release Rabid Death’s Curse in 2000, they have been periodically releasing albums and touring relentlessly most recently playing at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods which led to even more exposure. In fact, I discovered Watain because they were so talked about after playing at the Golden Gods. Having heard a lot about them and listened to a few of their songs I was keen on picking up this album for a review to see what the ruckus is about.
The Wild Hunt is not what I expected at all. I won’t say it is a bad album outright, but there seems to be a lot that needs to be fixed. The songs are good and enjoyable to listen to but after you’ve listened to the whole album there seems to be nothing that will make you want to go back and listen to it again. In fact, I had to listen to it three times to get a feeling for the album. There is something this record lacks which I really can’t put a finger on, maybe it’s the atmosphere, maybe it’s the riffs, I don’t know. The album is missing a major ingredient which may have made it better.
Watain is the real deal when it comes to ideologies at least. These guys hark back to the second wave where the band members were real Satanists. Many comparisons are made between Watain and Dissection and I can understand why. They have the similar song constructions and a similar sound too.
Getting back to the album at hand; other than a few songs like “De Profundis”, “Holocaust Dawn” and “Outlaw”, there are no other tracks that stand out as memorable or even interesting. “They Rode On” is a slow and semi-acoustic track which on its own is an excellent track, but seen together with the album as a whole stands out like a Metallica fan in a Megadeth concert. It just doesn’t fit, which brings me to my next point.
After having listened to the album a few times (not easy I must tell you) I have a feeling that Watain have tried doing something new with this album but have ended up shooting their legs off. This feels like a transitional album which just wasn’t executed properly. It is a jigsaw puzzle of songs which just don’t fit well.
The production on the album is good, a little too good. The album sounds very polished and while that might be a good thing for other genres, it removes that sense of rawness from the record, and who wants a clean black metal album really? Eric Danielsson on bass and vocals has done a good job on both harsh and clean vocals. Håkan Jonsson behind the kit is also good, though I wish there was a little more intensity with the drums. Pelle Forsberg on guitars has done a commendable job, his riffs might not be up to par but he makes up for them with some excellent solos. The use of non-traditional instruments like the fiddle and accordion show that the band is moving toward a new direction, if only the execution on the album was a little better.
In culmination, I would like to say that The Wild Hunt sounds to me like a concept which was poorly executed. It is only a small bump in what I hope will be Watain’s long and successful career. For me personally this was a boring album which has a few good songs. Hopefully on their next venture they can fully realize what they were trying to do here.