An awesomely evil night with Watain
January 25 at Lille Vega
On the utmost extreme wing in the plethora of subgenres in heavy metal, no other sub-style has churned up more controversy than black metal. Black metal probably doesn't find its way to the shelves of most households, but seeing a black metal concert is an experience on its own, even if it makes you feel uneasy.
Watain are the Swedish forerunners in this genre, and on Saturday night, they delivered a rib-rattling display of ferocious double-pedal induced metal with plenty of theatrics. Watain have a brilliant skill in creating a wall of sound astoundingly cold in expression and unsettling in composition. They also provide some of the most demonic lyrics to have ever graced my ears.
After a hearty display of dark metal from fellow Swedish ritualists In Solitude, the curtains were closed to heighten the suspense in witnessing Watain up next. After a solid 30-minute intermission, the crowd began to eagerly gaze up at the black curtain being withdrawn to reveal an immaculate 3D set-up. Arching both sides of the stage were two large metal display boards featuring animal bones and skins along with other occultist imagery. Even more astounding, the arches’ embrace was centered around a massive illustration of what appeared to be Rome’s St. Peters Cathedral.
As the percussive timbres and melody of ‘Nightvision’ queued the entrance of the corpse-painted musicians, last to enter was the revered and feared frontman Erik Daniellson. The classic black metal smasher ‘De Profundis’ was queued by the rotten, ferocious shrieks of Danielsson and the moshing commenced upon the start of ‘Devil’s Blood’.
Watain are known for having an affinity for pyrotechnics and casting blood upon the audience, but to my disappointment, the venues restrictions probably put a damper on the rituals of Watain for that evening.
Having recently released the critically acclaimed The Wild Hunt, Watain had plenty of great material to construct a solid setlist. Other highlights of the evening included ‘Sleepless Evil’ and ‘Outlaw’ which were as heavy as they were supersonic in speed. Luckily, the production was fantastically calibrated and very loud, which in some ways made up for the lack of further onstage theatrics.
Visually, the audience was treated to a very dark red/icy blue light aesthetics that complimented the demonic presence of all five members. Watain are an excellent example of a black metal band that perform on par with Norwegian heavyweight counterparts such as Immortal. They played for a solid 90 minutes with two encores, clearly showing that Watain take themselves very seriously and for that reason make for sincere performances. It would be interesting to see how these guys perform at a larger festival so they can make use of full production. Heads up, Copenhell and Roskilde.