Watain - Lawless Darkness
Season Of Mist
Black Metal
10 songs (1:13:28)
Release year: 2010
Watain, Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

There are no surprises to be found on the fourth full-length from these Swedish filthmongers, but it’s fair to say that it will blow you away nonetheless. The cover art, depicting a cold black portal at the centre of a swirling maelstrom of demonic horror, sums the album up well – it’s a dark pit into which the listener falls and is incapable of climbing out of – and despite the seemingly unnecessary length of over seventy minutes, Lawless Darkness will keep you gripped all the way through. “The return of Black Metal” Watain’s website proudly proclaims, and it’s hard to disagree after hearing this, although as ever the phrase will attract more controversy than it deserves. So intense and well-written is the music, so perfectly flowing and expertly judged, that it will flow over you and wash all resistance away. This is not a return to the purist days of yore – indeed, the band seem to have widened their aural palates even more, as glimpses of grind influence on Malfeitor hint – but a glorious step forwards, a melodic yet utterly ferocious piece of Black Metal where the Metal is as important an element as the Black.

Incredibly, the band’s recent Reaping Death EP has gone gold in their native land, and listening to the track on this album I can only assume the people of Sweden are Black Metal as fuck, because it’s one of the heaviest, most Casus Luciferi-an tracks on display, a grandiose invocation to arms that shifts from glorious speed to crawling intensity with perfect skill, and finishes with a wonderfully over-the-top solo. In ways, this is an improvement over the much-respected Casus Luciferi, which could be a little one-note in execution. Lawless Darkness is nothing if not varied, switching targets with gleeful frequency, killer riff piling upon killer riff. Fans of Germany’s Secrets Of The Moon will be in familiar territory with the slower likes of Four Thrones, yet they never managed the glorious gang-shouted euphoria present here, the near-orchestral percussive backing, or the bursts of speed that loosen the reins and allow the band to shoot away. The seamless slide into following track Wolves’ Curse is as expert a touch as the wolves’ howls that follow, thrash riffing piledriving its way into your skull as the darkness rises behind, relentlessly atmospheric even with the slow, Bluesy solo that follows.

If Lawless Darkness proves anything, it’s that bands that you know and love are still capable of pleasantly surprising you. There isn’t a track present that isn’t perfectly thought-out, masterly from start to finish, even the six-minute instrumental title track being absolutely killer. I could go through this track-by-track, but there’s simply too much to discuss, too much to be in awe at. Watain’s songwriting has always been above-average, but here they’ve jacked it up to levels little short of utter brilliance. Black Metal anthems such as Total Funeral roar and rage with a life of their own, absolutely classic in style with lashings of modern melody, whilst the quiet spoken interlude in the middle of the epic Hymn To Qayin fits in perfectly, near-cinematic glory sure to enthral all who hear it. My favourite piece of the album, however, has to be the fourteen-minute Waters Of Ain, a slow, intense paean to darkness that is one of the best things Watain have ever put their name to – frontman Erik Danielsson is on record as wanting it played at his funeral, and it’s not hard to see why. Ultimately, Watain have here produced their best work to date, a long yet worthy album that I find impossible to fault, and one that has to be recommended to every disciple of darkness who likes his Black Metal with a hefty slice of melody on the side. The return of Black Metal? Perhaps, just perhaps.

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Killing Songs :
Malfeitor, Reaping Death, Four Thrones, Wolves’ Curse, Lawless Darkness, Total Funeral, Waters Of Ain
Goat quoted 93 / 100
Other albums by Watain that we have reviewed:
Watain - The Wild Hunt reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
Watain - Casus Luciferi reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Watain - Sworn to the Dark reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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