posted on 6/2010 By:
With this record as arguably one of the more anticipated black metal releases of the year, Sweden’s Watain has a pretty monumental task following both the highly regarded Sworn to the Dark (an album I thought was a bit overrated personally) and, although two albums ago, the semi-classic Cassus Luciferi.
As with Sworn to the Dark, the overall sound is polished, clean and surprisingly melodic, but Lawless Darkness retains a more slickly malevolent sheen than Sworn to the Dark. So while the backbone of the music is still rooted heavily in Dissection (what do you expect – guitarist Erik Danielsson spent some time in Dissection in their later days), and while it's still surprisingly safe-sounding for such an occult, respected band, you can feel the conviction and menace in every note. The songs are still longer than your average black metal song with most hovering between 5-8 minutes but “Wolves Curse” clocking in at over 9 minutes and closer “Waters of Ain” at a whopping 14 minutes.
However, each song isn’t meant to be taken as unique entity. Rather, Lawless Darkness is meant to be observed as a more ritualistic event. The tracks are labyrinthine and serpentine with a certain reptilian presence undulating under the black metal exterior. Also, while still melodic, it’s not so in the classic sense but sports a restrained sense of evil harmony, often bolstered by solos. In conjunction with the band’s slightly increased injections of heavy metal and thrash (i.e. “Four Thrones”, “Total Funeral”), this melodicism makes for a black metal record that, while still one of the more pure forms of black metal, isn’t afraid to tinker with their sound. And it does all of that without delving into any modern black metal trends like utter chaos, post-rock, pop or overly depressive ambience.
While the album is indeed a whole entity, special notice should be given to the two aforementioned longer tracks (especially "Waters of Ain") and to the title track, all of which breathe and brood with innate blackness effortlessly while still mingling solos, tremolo-picked blasts, slow moody injections, stern marches and a whole lot of black metal confidence oozing from each note. And that’s what separates Watain from many black metal acts; they seem to have an almost effortless ability to ply their genre without even trying. It's just in their pores and genes, as if Satan himself was channeling his malevolence, intellect and deceit through them, and that seeps through Lawless Darkness’s every moment.
Heaven help us if Watain pushed themselves a little more...
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