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Review: Watain - The Wild Hunt
The Wild Hunt

Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 2013
Duration: 62:49
Tracks: 11
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 3.75/5

Review online: August 23, 2013
Reviewed by: Edward T. Head
Readers Rating
The Wild Hunt

Rated 3.52/5 (70.37%) (27 Votes)

Although the almost juvenile satanic-shtick can be a bit much, I've always found Watain to be a solid band. The accessibility of the last two albums really set the band apart from many of its peers, allowing appeal to non-genre fans, and alienating those of a more "true" nature. Erik Danielsson's over-the-top nature, and so-serious-it's-fucking-stupid interviews have helped draw much attention to Watain, catapulting the band to the forefront of Black Metal. The attention has also led the band to be one of the most polarizing in the genre, and with The Wild Hunt, the fifth full-length chapter in the Watain story, Danielsson and co. have only stoked the fire.

Upon initial listens, the album seems quite a bit more chaotic, and less melodic, than the prior two. While there's still plenty of melody to found, especially in the second half, there's a Thrashy edge to many of the tracks, along with a nod to early Bathory that harkens back to Watain's earlier work. The Wild Hunt opens itself up with ensuing listens, bringing the songs together, and showing some memorable riffs. However, outside of "The Child Must Die", nothing reaches the accessibility of recent offerings.

On the other hand, the (mostly) more aggressive nature of the album does make for a good listen, though what stands out the most are the moments when Watain stretches its normal boundaries, showing no fear in trying something different. "They Rode On" is the first of the experiments, where a crooning Danielsson channels his inner Quorthon over slide-guitar acoustics and power-ballad-like leads (thereby touching on both ends of the Bathory spectrum in the process). And the title track begins with a normal rasp, but utilizes clean vocals in the refrain, and Doom-like leads throughout. Although both feel a bit out of place at first, both are fine songs featuring elements Watain would do well to further explore in the future.

So, while The Wild Hunt isn't as immediately memorable as Sworn to the Dark, it's the most varied album of Watain's career. Some older fans are likely to scoff at the changes, but more adventurous listeners should both enjoy the album, and be excited for what the band's future holds.

Other related information on the site
Review: Casus Luciferi (reviewed by Chaossphere)
Review: Die in Fire - Live in Hell (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Lawless Darkness (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Sworn To The Dark (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Trident Wolf Eclipse (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Interview with E. Danielsson on May 23, 2004 (Interviewed by Chris Mitchell (Desolate Gale))
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