** The "Wild Hunt" listening party was held at Duff's in Brooklyn, New York on June 8th. Century Media hosted, with Erik Danielsson acting as infernal master of ceremonies. The track-by-track review was written on first listen at Duff's. Track 1: "Night Vision" Big slow intro build. Heavy metalesque segue, twin harmonic leads cutting the dirty distortion. Tympani drums signal the oncoming assault. Raw mix, up front, clear '80s production. Lots of space, buried guitar solos. Chaotic.
Track 2: "De Profundis" More direct, tremolo Swede vibe. Vocals feel like venom on skin. Could be a Sodom song---tight and riff simple---if it was done by a more musically adept Sarcofago. Then it goes into a Dissectionesque march, but still very much Watain. Triumphant mid-section. Very soundtrack-like.
Track 3. "Black Flames March" The trademark Swedish tremolo riff returns. Windswept in feel but also evil and grimy. The mid-section breaks open, spacey and focused on a drum/vocal call and response. Nice solo transition into a rocking movement that could've been on Tormentor's Anno Domini record.
Track 4. "All That May Bleed" Reading the lyrics to this song as it plays gives it a new dimension. It rolls along, powerful and purposeful. Erik's rolling the "r", too. There's a violent mid-section; feels like something out of South America but sounds like no one. The tight thrash riff that explodes out of the brief solo is Germanic. The amount of production "things" is also of note. Whether it's the bubbling bass or background noises, there's more here than a "song." "All That May Bleed" is the 7-inch single.
Track 5: "The Child Must Die" Very much in line with the black/death of Unanimated. Erik's vocals clear and commanding, a sense of climatic danger. The drum production is of notice. Huge and impactful. The coruscating melodic guitar could be on a Mörk Gryning record, like Maelstrom Chaos. The rocking end, with the bass and guitar lines guiding the song to its inevitable resolution.
Track 6: "They Rode On" Introspective. Singing! Very singer/songwriter. Pensive. Will surprise. Feels a bit like a Root song from The Book, without the Bohemian vibe. Or maybe something like Bay Laurel would do on Days of Joy. Very Swedish in mood. Great end of Side A track. Guitar work is fantastic. Feels like Erik's invoked Quorthon. But this is very much individual. It's a genuine song construction. The solo is fucking brilliant. Slow and melodic, lengthy it takes over before Erik's vocals return.
Track 7: "Sleepless Evil" Brutal. Some kind of nasty, barely unbridled version of German/South American death. The alternating tremolo guitar the only indication this song of Swedish origin. Horror movie piano break. Dynamic. Big production. Drums sound massive. Guitars churn. Thrashy break into a more black metal assault. Solos clash, break. Direct and uncompromising. Consider this a response to track 5.
Track 8: "Wild Hunt" This is the single. To me. Ritualistic. Choir vocals. Sort of what Bathory did on Blood Fire Death. Dark, slow and melodic. There's menace present but it's an ancient menace. Something finally awake after a long slumber. Solo is great. Depressive yet engaging. Funeral march-like. Again, feels like Bathory on Hammerheart. Erik's singing. A bit of a Pink Floyd feel. Outro is great. Big and reflective. Strange flamenco finale.
Track 9: "Outlaw" Pulling in ancient voodoo/religious vibe. Unleashes hell. Fast, spitting black. Cool thrash solo, weird prog movement. Solo's chaotic, wild, recalling the late '80s. Oh, there's a Maybe Voivod if they worshiped the devil and dined on the dead. Not evil just noisy and different. Voodoo vibe comes back. Maybe inspired by the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom soundtrack. Ends suddenly.
Track 10: "Ignem Veni Mittere" Instrumental. A break. Shows Watain's melodic side. An evil bit closes it out. They're developing at a frightening pace. While one one hand, they're brutal and uncompromising, on the other they're nostalgic, reflective, and musical. The marriage of the two styles will surely bring more interesting things in the future.
Track 11: "Holocaust Dawn" Brutal yet experimental. Choirs. Waltz part with tremolo guitars. Arabic section, with talking and atonal strings. Fast blasts dominate. This is Watain in 7-minute frame. This the past, the present, and future of Watain. Certainly, it'll divide the purists, but the purists see only out of one eye. Sadly.
** Watain's The Wild Hunt is out August 20th in North America.