The best music you're not listening to.™ Reviews of lost classics and obscure titles. Unheralded bands and songwriters. New bands deserving of greater attention. The site for the music omnivore. It's all here, on the Ripple Effect
When any of us goes all in on
something, the results can be impressive. Perhaps you have a business idea, or
you have found the love of your life, or you find a cause that you can really
get behind. When we find that one thing and we pour ourselves completely into
it, it can be life changing. If you are an artist and you go all in, you get an
album like this one.
This is one of those albums that
really took me by surprise. Their last album, 2013's “The Wild Hunt”, was actually
pretty tame, and many fans of the band felt that perhaps hitting middle age (in
band years anyway), we had seen the mellowing of the band. This new album,
however, is full of fierceness and ferocity and seems almost a rebirth of the
rampaging beast that we had known as Watain.
If you are not familiar with
Watain, they are a black metal band from Sweden and they are most definitely
“all in”. Black metal is not just a musical genre for them but has become a
lifestyle that they have followed for 20 years now. Their album artwork and
stage designs are made of various symbols that represent what they believe, and
their placement and use is very purposeful. They are a band that does not just
perform, but can rightly say that each time they play it is a ritual. They are
one of the few bands active today that can truly lay claim to being a
personification of what black metal truly stood for when it first drug itself
into being as a means for cultures to reconnect with their pagan histories.
The album is also informed by
the suicide in 2014 of Selim Lemouchi, a founder of the band The Devil's
Blood, and a touring member of Watain. With the beliefs that they hold, a
band like this is very insular, and the band members freely admit that his
death had a huge impact. They have obviously taken this influence and molded it
into a part of what they do.
The music rips and blasts like
few things I have heard in a while. Opening track “Nuclear Alchemy” is so
different from their previous album that I really had to remind myself who I
was listening to. The album is full of wild and unhinged music and lyrics, as
though the past few years have freed the band to unleash the true fullness of
their feelings and beliefs. Read the lyrics to “Towards the Sanctuary” and you
can basically take them as a manifesto of what the band is about and what they
would see transpire in the world. In my mind this album is nothing short of a
black metal masterpiece.
Watain will be on tour in the US in February
and March and it would be in your best interest to take in a show if they come
through your town. As great as it is to hear their recorded work, a live show
is where you can truly connect with this band. This is music that transcends
the boundaries between our mundane lives and the other possibilities that
exist, and why wouldn't you want to check that out.