Watain are no strangers to controversy. From their hellacious black metal, classic records that have helped transform the genre, animal blood-soaked live performances, and unabashed allegiance to Satan, the band has been one of the most-talked about, controversial acts to come along in some time. In an era when everyone seems to want to play it safe, Watain have gone the opposite direction and brought their madness and darkness on like a storm to shock and startle the masses. Now, the controversy comes from their new, fifth album “The Wild Hunt,” the band’s first for Century Media, one people have weirdly dubbed their “Black Album,” in reference to Metallica’s mainstream-embracing 1991 smash. If “The Black Album” sounded half as ferocious as “The Wild Hunt,” no one would bitch about that record, and honestly, the hand wringing going on over this new Watain statement is ridiculous.
Guitarist/vocalist/spokesman/driving force behind Watain Erik Danielsson frankly doesn’t care what critics think, as you’ll read below, and only is concerned about driving Watain into the future, people’s fretting be damned. “The Wild Hunt” is an important piece of the band’s mission, and Danielsson took time to answer some of our queries about the album, how he feels it fits into Watain’s campaign, and his feelings on how people have been impacted by their 10-minute epic “They Rode On.” He is blunt, to the point, and a little agitated, and we would not have expected any less.
Meat Mead Metal: Congratulations on your new record “The Wild Hunt” not only for creating one of the most anticipated albums of the year but for creating controversy for how it sounds. Are you surprised by the reaction, since some people seem to feel Watain turned their backs on a true black metal sound?
Erik Danielsson: I haven’t heard so much about the reactions apart from the few reviews I’ve read, and of course the reactions of our closest brothers and sisters who were with us during the birth of “The Wild Hunt.” The latter of course means a lot to me. But beyond that, I have very little interest in whether or not people feel we have met their expectations or whatever. To me it’s an album that I am very content with and very proud of.
MMM: The production is the best of any Watain record to date. It’s rich, nicely textured, alive. It also fits the music really well. Was it a goal to go into this and produce a bigger sounding album?
MMM: What was the goal or mission going into creating “The Wild Hunt” and do you feel you accomplished what you set out for?
ED: As always, we yearned to make an album permeated by an ever deeper level of honesty, passion, and fanaticism than ever before. And as always, we succeeded!
MMM: Century Media seems like a perfect place for Watain to expand their mission. Is that why you chose to go there?
ED: We chose Century Media because they respected our ideas. They seemed to be a label that were not afraid of a band that was not like other bands. We are very confident with that choice.
MMM: To me, this record feels like a pretty natural progression from “Lawless Darkness,” which showed signs of Watain expanding their sound and their mission. Do you feel that way, that the band’s been headed down this path for a while?
ED: Watain has been on the same path since day one; the one into the unknown. So while the progress is indeed as natural as it can get, it is also entirely unpredictable. This is a problem for a lot of people that are afraid of change and prefer the stagnant order of things. Watain has always been about dissolving stagnation and hammering order into pieces.
MMM: Obviously much has been made of “They Rode On” and the clean vocals and slower tempo. Some have alluded to it being a ballad, like you did some sort of your own “Nothing Else Matters,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. Does it give you a sense of satisfaction at all that this song has been able to provoke the way it has? How did the song come about?
ED: I do not care the slightest about whether or not people see that song as “provoking.” If you measure the relevance and value of such opinions in comparison to what the song is actually about and how much it means to us, you would understand. And this is also something that the lyric itself deals with; the ability to shut out the vanity and the irrelevance of this disgusting world and focus only on transcendence and the path leading there. Nothing else matters!
MMM: For those fretting due to what they’ve heard online about the record, there’s plenty of Watain punishment such as “De Profundis,” “The Child Must Die,” and “Outlaw.” How do you feel these songs feed the flames that make up Watain?
ED: Musically, most of the album is pretty much full on Black Metal mania from start to finish, apart from perhaps “They Rode On” and the title track, which for some reason seem to be what most people choose to focus on. “The Wild Hunt” is made out of 11 songs that in turn could be seen as 11 windows that all reveal their own specific angle of the Temple of Watain.
MMM: What is the importance of Satanism to Watain in this stage of your career and your lives? Still as present and powerful?
ED: Ever more so.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.templeofwatain.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://centurymedia.com/