Taking things to the next step – whatever the costs are. This has always been WATAIN’s goal from day one and this has never been truer than with “The Wild Hunt”, their fifth full-length album and first for Century Media Records.
It would be easy to call this the most important album of their career but then again, all their albums are. Even back thirteen years ago when their debut “Rabid Death’s Curse” was released almost anonymously on a small underground label it already took a stand: While the black metal scene was reaching its peak on a commercial yet agonizing level, artistically speaking, they just were different. Unique. And ambitious. This continued on each of their following albums, each one expanding their musical horizon and fanbase, shining with creativity and conviction, while taking them around the world. The monstrous “Lawless Darkness” touring cycle that saw WATAIN in top positions on such renowned festivals as Wacken and Bloodstock in the UK, and touring in the US with like-minded The Devil’s Blood, In Solitude and Behemoth made it even more official: they were now in a league of their own and emancipated beyond their genre peers. Yet resting on their laurels never was an option and so WATAIN decided to go into seclusion for over six months to compose their new album, followed by four long and excruciating months in four different studios to record this beast. With mixing duties handled by the faithful Tore Stjerna at the famous Necromorbus studio in Alvik (Sweden), “The Wild Hunt” marks another gigantic achievement and most importantly once again ups the ante compared to WATAIN’s extremely well received previous releases.
By far, it is their most diverse record to date and vocalist E. is adamant about “each album bringing a story on its own. There’s never been a question of continuing wherever we ended with the previous one.” So if to some the opening instrumental ‘Night Vision’ picks up nicely where ‘Waters of Ain’ left off on “Lawless Darkness” and the album’s first single ‘All That May Bleed’ has classic WATAIN written all over the place, these eleven songs offer plenty of devilish surprises. The trio (rounded up by P. on strings and H. on drums) has never ever compromised their sound nor their vision to “mainstream black metal” and “The Wild Hunt” is another vivid proof of that. This sonic and lyrical tour-de-force explores the band’s classic roots like Bathory or Dissection (“being quite a retrospective record, that record is permeated by things that meant a lot to us in the past so no reason to try to hide them”) while also being truly their own. And who else than WATAIN could have come up with such an intimate song like ‘They Rode On’ where for the first time they dare using clean vocals? “I piss on those so-called artists who adapt themselves in order to reach bigger audiences. The main reason why we achieved all that we did is that we never betrayed our initial vision, not because we ever pretended to write more ‘accessible’ music. That specific song is just us being brutally personal and honest. It shows another important facet of the WATAIN world.”
Having lost none of their integrity, the band lives in a world on their own where the DIY ethic is more than never the only option: “All the business related to WATAIN is now happening within our own closed circle: we have our own label, our own merchandise company, we build our own stage props etc. Independence and freedom are two of the most central ideas to us.” And with their most ambitious work to date ready to be unleashed and a forthcoming release party due to set ablaze their hometown of Uppsala on August 24th, one could say that WATAIN is about to become the biggest and most important black metal band in the world. Except that they’re already there. And “The Wild Hunt” is their crown of thorns.
(Olivier Badin, June 2013)