Released: 2013, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
So the 5th Watain album is here in the form of The Wild Hunt and my initial thoughts are how this album will compare to the two fantastic albums before it (Lawless Darkness & Sworn To The Dark) given that Lawless Darkness especially in my opinion is one of the best Black Metal releases of the past decade. Well rest assured that Watain have put all of their unique raw mesmerising energy into The Wild Hunt to create an album that definitely sits in good standing when compared to their previous material.
Whilst the album does have the classic references to bands like Dissection and Bathory which we’ve become accustomed to when listening to Watain, there is also the feeling that Watain have wanted to make this album a lot more progressive and experimental than any of their previous albums. To use the words progressive & experimental in Black Metal might be a bit of a contradiction in terms but when you consider that this album marks Watain’s first venture into melodic/clean vocals on many of the tracks as well as the slow ballad entitled They Rode On which has vocalist E singing melodic vocals throughout. Rather than sounding purely Black Metal, this track has a real Gothic/Ethereal feel to it as well which I never really expected from Watain and E’s melodic vocal style on the track could easily be compared to that of Carl McCoy from Fields of The Nephilim. It’s this track and a few other moments on the album which I’m absolutely sure will divide opinion amongst the Black Metal contingent but for me personally it was a really pleasant surprise to hear such a unique track and I think it’s a great thing when a band starts expanding their sound.
However, Watain most definitely have not left out any of their usual Black Metal sound on the rest of the album. If anything the ethereal style of They Rode On and the album as a whole shows what the potential is for Watain in the future to expand with their sound and become something even greater than they already are.
For those that want to hear the heavier side of Watain there are absolutely blazing Black Metal onslaughts such as Black Flames March which I’m hoping will become a future live favourite as once the chorus kicks in there’s plenty of opportunity for a bit of crowd participation to scream along with the lyrics. The Child Must Die is another great track which builds the energy and aggression higher and higher towards its inevitable end before They Rode On brings the tempo and feel right down to a slow epic ballad pace.
Production wise the album has the fantastic Watain studio sound that I absolutely love. The drums are low and boomy, the guitars have just the right mixture of low end grunt mixed with high end buzz to create a perfect Black Metal tone and E’s vocals sound as brilliant as ever on both his Black Metal and melodic vocals. Song wise as Watain have quite rightly said this album is most definitely diverse Watain album to date with a great mixture songs from the slow epic and melodic to the raw fast paced and unrelenting, and tracks that mix all of those elements combined as well such as Sleepless Evil.
If I had to give a final overall assessment of the album then I would say that I think this might possibly be the Watain album to divide opinion amongst the fans (as there are a lot more slower paced songs and melodic vocals on this album compared to anything released previously).
Personally I absolutely loved this album and I think the fact that Watain have experimented and progressed into different areas to really further their sound is a great thing not just for Watain but for the Black Metal genre as a whole to show that their really should be no limits to your own creativity no matter what genre you’re placed in.
Some may hate the album, some may love it, some may even say that the references to Dissection and Bathory are too strong, but the fact remains that Watain are back and what they’ve brought with them is an album that is sure to further their ascension to the ranks of Black Metal icons.
Review by Joffie Lovett