Watain – Lawless Darkness

WATAIN create grim atmospheres and discordant sounds of evil. On the Swedish demons’ fourth release, Lawless Darkness, vocalist/bassist E (Erik Danielsson), drummer H (Hakan Jonsson) and guitarist P (Pelle Forsberg) play old-school evil black metal with flair. WATAIN are one of the most well-respected black metal artists of today, and they have really progressed their sound from album to album.

There is an old-school feel and vibrancy to Lawless Darkness, with guitar melodies that really stand out. There aren’t as many blast beats as there are real dynamics in the slower-paced songs, which are injected with atmosphere and complex guitar layering. The music is very structured and very much WATAIN’s way.

Most of the songs have an “epic” feel to them, ranging from 5:08 to 14:29, and the album clocking in at 75 minutes. Various tempo changes within the song structures keep mundane and monotonous at bay.

The vocals are raw and tormented but decipherable. H is not the greatest drummer in black metal, but his dynamics keep it interesting, and P’s guitar work is amazing. The production might be a little too polished for the taste of the true BM hordes, but it is clean and consistent, with just the right amount of distortion.

Obvious comparisons to BATHORY, CELTIC FROST, VENOM and, most notably, DISSECTION (E was their touring bassist) abound on Lawless Darkness.

The opener, “Death’s Cold Dark,” blasts away from the start with E’s violent vocals and H’s thunderous double kick drumming. The guitar tone and some eerie melodies on “Malfeitor” make for a good atmosphere. The title track has a great guitar solo and interesting riffage, which keep the atmosphere moving along. The longest song on the album, closer “Waters of Ain,” flows by nicely and fades out with a great guitar solo, chimes and light keyboard overtures.

Lawless Darkness is a great black metal album that will surely entice metalheads who are still on the fence about black metal to cross over to the dark side.

By Kelley Simms

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