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Watain – The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain Award winner

The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain
by Alex Barnard at 11 May 2022, 8:31 PM

WATAIN is a legendary Black Metal trio from Uppsala, Sweden. “The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain” is the band’s seventh full-length album, released by Nuclear Blast Records on April 29, 2022.

Full disclosure: even though I enjoy Black Metal, I’ve never listened to a WATAIN album in my life. Shocking, I know, but it’s an admission that I am glad I finally have off my chest. Anyway, with that out-of-the-way, this album is excellent. Of course, it has a lot of the elements of traditional Black Metal, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like a rehash of classic albums like MAYHEM’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” or EMPEROR’s “In the Nightside Eclipse.” Instead, the band seems to be exploring melody quite a bit, especially on songs like “Before the Cataclysm.” That doesn't mean that the band has lost their heaviness, however. “Leper's Grace,” for example, is a speedy, blast-beat filled adrenaline ride that is bound to snap your neck from all the headbanging you will do.

In terms of how the band is sounding, the members still seem to be kicking ass. E.’s vocals are raw and powerful, and his bass playing, while simplistic, gets the job done. H.’s drumming is devastating, showing flashes of such a legends as Bonham, Lombardo, and Hoglan. And, last but not least, P.’s guitar playing is otherworldly, running the gamut from tremolo-picked fury (“The Howling”) to groovy breakdowns (the middle section of “Black Cunt”).

Other highlights from this album include “Serimosa,” which plods along with the grace and subtlety of a 1000 pound ogre and has one of my favorite riffs on the whole album; “We Remain,” which takes an unexpectedly Gothic turn that works very well with the track listing; and “Not Sun Nor Man Nor God,” which breaks up the lightspeed pace of the album with its melodic guitar solos, ambient pianos, and industrial sound effects.

Overall, this is a great introduction to the works of WATAIN. The band seems to be in incredibly fine form here, and the song writing is very strong. If you were already a fan of the band, I guarantee you will enjoy this album.

Production: 8
Song writing: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Ecstasies in Night Infinite
2. The Howling
3. Serimosa
4. Black Cunt
5. Leper's Grace
6. Not Sun Nor Man Nor God
7. Before the Cataclysm
8. We Remain
9. Funeral Winter
10. Septentrion
E. – Bass, Vocals
H. – Drums
P. – Guitars
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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