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Watain, The Wild Hunt And Black Metal Damnation

Monday, 09 September 2013 Written by Ben Bland

Watain are one of the most enigmatic black metal bands in existence today, professing their allegiance to Satanism and refusing to bow to any attempts to restrict their bloody live shows.

Their new album, ‘The Wild Hunt’, is an epic listen, and could prompt something approaching a tilt at the metal mainstream. We spoke to frontman Erik Danielsson to discuss the record, imagery and Cormac McCarthy.

Hi Erik. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. First of all, how are you feeling about the (almost unanimously positive) early reactions to the new album?

It feels good of course, realising that people have been willing to open themselves that much to our work. We put our hearts and souls into this album, so the fact that it is well received is of course pleasing.

Some would suggest that this new album could really take the band’s popularity to a whole new level. As such did you feel under any particular pressure when making it?

No, because we never thought much about Watain in terms of popularity and success. That seems to be something other people are more interested in. We live in our own world and that world has very high walls around it. We are not particularly interested in what goes on outside that world, or how people relate to it from an outside perspective. With that being said, there was never any pressure either, at least not from any other directions but from within ourselves.

While there is obviously a lot of real heaviness on the album, the melodies and the softer elements seem more apparent upon first listen. Do you think that’s down to a conscious decision on your part or did the songs just emerge like that?

There are not that many conscious decision made while writing or recording our albums. We like to consider ourselves as vessels in the hands of something far, far greater than our own selves, which allows for the albums structure to kind of shape itself.

On a musical level ‘The Wild Hunt’ is probably Watain’s most expansive record yet. How far do you feel you can take the less traditional elements of your sound? Is there a cut-off point after which the result is almost “no longer Watain”, so to speak?

Everything that comes from Watain is Watain. There are two songs on 'The Wild Hunt' that derive a bit from what we have done in the past musically, but they are still to me so extremely close to the heart and past of Watain. People seem to think this is a very big deal. For us it is just such a natural thing. Of course you will see more angles and more openings when you come of a certain age and have been writing music for a long time. Tell me one true artist who has not done that after 15 years!

When Watain first emerged it felt like you took a lot of stick for supposedly being uninspired and unoriginal, but that has definitely died down now. Do you feel that’s because you’ve really honed a distinctive ‘Watain’ sound now?

I suppose that’s the way it went for many of the bands that formed in the '90s, and had all those great releases coming out just some years before. We were heavily inspired by everything that went on in the black metal scene at that time, especially in the underground. So naturally that made it’s way into how we sounded as well, when you are 16-years-old that’s kind of the way it goes. Then you come to know yourself, you begin to look deeper into creativity, you find your own natural way of expressing yourself, and you find your “sound”. For me that is very hard to distinguish myself though. Frankly, I could not care less anyway.

The artwork for ‘The Wild Hunt’ is very striking and multi-layered, and is something I believe you were heavily involved in. Could you possibly take us through some of the symbolism on display?

We are always very meticulous about the artwork, and 'The Wild Hunt' was no different of course. But when it comes to symbolism, I do not like to reveal such things in interviews. It is indeed multi-layered, but it is up to those who are truly interested to delve into those layers and find the hidden passages and tunnels of wisdom.

I’ve read that They Rode On is partially inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. What is it about him as a writer that you have found intriguing? Are there any other writers that have impacted upon Watain?

I like how his narrative is not necessarily based on an actual story as much as it is based on a state of being, a state of emotion. It is like being carried through a dream. And in the case of Blood Meridian it’s a violent and profound nightmare. There is a perfect combination of the most chaotic, sadistic insanity and this oppressive stillness that keeps referring to a great, all-encompassing secret that lies buried somewhere deep, deep down… It just reminded me a lot about Watain. I read quite a lot, and of course there are many books that have been inspiring. Lately I’ve been reading Savitri Devi, Antonin Artaud and Hanz Heinz Ewers which in one way or another have all inspired me immensely.

The level of success that Watain have now reached suggests that there must be some members of mainstream religions who see themselves as fans of the band. Does that bother you at all? Do you find it strange that a Christian could be a fan of Watain, for example?

I am sure that it is probable, just like I’m sure there are vegans eating at McDonalds and Nazis that enjoy smoking a spliff and listen to reggae from time to time. In general though, I again could not care less. There are things in Watain that are universally attractive I suppose. Most people are scared of the night but still find it beautiful and alluring, just like people admire the wolves although they know they might strike at any time.

Do you ever meet fans who have been inspired to take up Satanism by Watain’s music? Is it something you feel you could just “take up” out of the blue?

I am sure there are people who have been inspired by us in that regard, yes. However, to be honest, I have never been very interested in that myself. Watain has always been for us, our own world, our own religion, our own reality. But still, it is permeated by Satanic currents, that will eventually find their way into the hearts of those that dare to open them. That’s what black metal does; it drags people towards damnation.

Watain UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Thu December 5th 2013 - MANCHESTER Academy 2
Fri December 6th 2013 - GLASGOW Garage
Sat December 7th 2013 - BIRMINGHAM The Institute
Sun December 8th 2013 - LONDON Electric Ballroom

Click Here to Compare & Buy Watain Tickets at Stereoboard.com.



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