Watain – Lawless Darkness Review

Watain // Lawless Darkness
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Black metal excellence
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: templeofwatain.com | myspace.com/watainofficial
Release Dates: EU: 07.06.2010 | US: 06.08.2010

This Angry Metal Guy rips on black metal a lot. One of the most overdone and ill-performed genres in the history of metal has to be black metal. The problem is that when black metal is performed poorly by individuals who are not invested in it, then black metal is boring, simplistic and uninteresting. But when black metal is performed with the force and fanaticism of Sweden’s very own Watain, then it is a force to be reckoned with. And finally Lawless Darkness the new full-length from this Uppsala/Stockholm, Sweden-based black metal act is here and it is a force be reckoned with. It harkens back to the days of yore, when black metal was new, vile and most importantly, dangerous and excellent.

Entirely honestly, it’s hard to write a review for a record like this because in the end what probably should be said is: it’s fucking Watain, buy it already. But, of course, if you’re out looking for a review you might be sitting on the fence and then you want a description. Lawless Darkness brings the old school back a bit with Lawless Darkness. This is not a 200 BPM blast album like a lot of modern black metal, where you start to lose the extremity due to oversights of what makes music heavy and extreme. Instead, there is an old school thrash feeling to Lawless Darkness that was less apparent on Sworn to the Dark. Some people might disagree with me on this, but one could argue that these guys had been listening to a bit of Sodom and Kreator lately and longing for the old days (they’re not alone, apparently). This is not to say that there aren’t tracks that are similar to “Sworn to the Dark” or “Underneath the Cenotaph”, but there is a more thrashy feel and the same blasty black metal feel isn’t the same.

Lawless Darkness is also a more melodic record than Sworn to the Dark or Casus Luciferi as well. The guitar solos and the melodies on this album stood out for me, in the same way that they stand out for a Taake or Tsjuder record. While this might make Lawless Darkness more accessible for a new group of listeners (which the label probably likes), I seriously doubt that was the point. The tracks call for the melodies that pop up and the guitar solos that rock this album are definitely awesome and fit the feel of the record perfectly. And while the end of a track like “Kiss of Death” definitely calls up Ride the Lightning in its execution (usch, what a comparison…), very few people would argue that it’s awesome and metal as fuck.

So, once again, Lawless Darkness shows Watain as being one of the premier (if not the premier) black metal band(s) from Sweden. The legions of Swedish black metal are pretty thick, but listening to an album like this just puts into sharp perspective how black metal is to be executed. If you have any questions, just send them to the guys from Watain. Tracks like “Four Thrones” (“Hail Lucifer!”) and the huge epic “Waters of Ain” just cement that for me as a listener. I’m not sure whether or not I can say that this record is better than Sworn to the Dark and Casus Luciferi (I think many fans would say no), but I suspect that for many fans of black metal Watain’s newest opus will still top the 2010 list of favorites.

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