In our September cover story, Erik Danielsson told J. Bennett that “it will be interesting to see people’s reaction to [The Wild Hunt].” Those comments were made shortly before Century Media hosted a pre-release private listening party, but Watain‘s frontman could have easily been talking about public reception, particularly now that his band’s fifth full-length has been out for over a month. So on the eve of his band’s (mostly) US tour, Danielsson was kind enough to address, via playlist, at least one of the responses he’s heard thus far: “Many of those who have heard The Wild Hunt seemed to have been surprised by the musical diversity of the album. This diversity is a consequence of many things, mainly spiritual in nature. But of course, being in many ways a retrospective album, it is also a reflection of what music has echoed through our world for the past 15 years. What follows here is a selection of songs that has meant very much to me ever since Watain started, songs that have burned their way into my heart and soul.”
Feel free to listen along here and if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of The Wild Hunt here.
Bestial Warlust’s “Bestial Warlust” (from 1994’s Vengeance War ‘Till Death)
In 1995 I bought a compilation called Blackend, which had just been released by some UK label. I suppose it was meant to be a kind of summary of the black metal scene at the time, which in a way it was, regardless of how many bands were left out. It had a lot of crap on it, but also a few real gems such as Unanimated, Samael and Sigh. But there was one track that took over the whole experience for me, and that was the one with Bestial Warlust called “Satanic”. I remembered I had seen their album Vengeance War ‘Till Death at the local metal store so I went there and listened to it over and over again until the owner eventually taped it for me. Through discovering Bestial Warlust, I also got into bands like Slaughter Lord, Destroyer666, Gospel of the Horns and all the other killer Australian bands proudly carrying the torch of Rok and his mad fellows.
Tormentor’s “Tormentor II” (from 1988’s Anno Domini)
“Hideous music of the dark burns sounds for me as I stuff your nasty body into the dirty hole.” I don’t know what the fuck was going on in Hungary in 1988, but needless to say something was very, very wrong. Two years after Chernobyl, one year after Under the Sign of the Black Mark, Attila Csihar (whose life story I hope someone makes into a biography one day) and his band truly established a new level of backwardness and insanity within black metal. And listening to this, it comes as no great surprise that Euronymous some years later would ask him to replace his dead vocalist.
Bathory’s “Twilight of the Gods” (from 1991’s Twilight Of The Gods)
I think I was too young to realize that it might be considered strange that Bathory had made such a drastic musical turn between Blood Fire Death and Hammerheart. I still think of it as a natural evolution, genuine artistry at its best! The song “Twilight of the Gods” embodies everything that I admire about the later era of Bathory: the melancholy, the jaw-dropping guitar solos, the unique atmosphere, Quorthon’s “I don’t give a fuck if I miss a tone, I still sing like a god” attitude, and so on. Definitely some of the most dramatic and emotional music I have in my record collection. By the way, compare the atmosphere and lyrical themes on this album with Tyr by Black Sabbath, released one year earlier.
Thorns’ “Aerie Descent” (from 1992’s Trøndertun demo)
I first heard Thorns on the legendary Nordic Metal compilation, and still to this day I firmly believe they belong as the most important bands to emerge out of the Norwegian black metal scene. What Snorre lacked in loyalty he sure made up for in terms of writing songs that out-darkened most of his contemporaries. Unfortunately Thorns only ever recorded two songs in their original sinister form, this and “Funeral Marches to the Grave”. But those two songs still remain as some of the most disturbing music ever to come out of Norway, and whenever I hear them, I am taken back to a time when black metal was–not only for me but for everyone involved, it seemed–something that those belonging to it would kill and die for in a heartbeat.
Dissection’s “Black Dragon” (from 2006’s Reinkaos)
The memories I have from the years surrounding Reinkaos are still too important and valuable to speak too openly about. But I know I am not alone in remembering how the air would grow thick and a sudden darkness would descend whenever we got to hear bits and pieces of what was to become their most important album. Every song on that album had an immense impact on my life, and still has.
Current 93’s “I Have a Special Plan For This World” (from 2000’s “I Have a Special Plan for This World” single)
When one of our security boys quite randomly introduced me to this song, it turned my entire world upside down. I hope it does the same to all of you. It has been a very precious companion on many a late night since then. Make sure you read Thomas Ligotti’s fantastic lyrics.
Fields of the Nephilim’s “Sumerland (What Dreams May Come)” and “And There Will Your Heart Be Also” (from 1990’s Elizium)
Hard to pick one single song off Elizium, which is an album that requires a perception of its totality in order to be fully appreciated in all its magic and otherworldliness. So here are two. It is probably the album that together with De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Storm of the Light’s Bane, Ride the Lightning and Use Your Illusion II that I have been listening to the most in this life. Some people call this “goth”, but to me this is really music that transcends genres. So these two closing tracks off Elizium seem suitable for wrapping up this list of songs that are indeed “just songs”–but also, in the grand scheme of things, shards of a divine disaster. Distortions in the plan of god. Embers of a secret fire that would not die.
*Photo by Ester Segarra
**Watain tour dates:
Oct. 8–New York, NY–Irving Plaza
Oct. 9–Philadelphia, PA–Underground Arts
Oct. 10–Worcester, MA–Palladium Upstairs
Oct. 11–Montreal, QC-Foufounes Electriques
Oct. 12–Toronto, ON–Opera House
Oct. 14–Detroit, MI–The Magic Stick
Oct. 15–Chicago, IL–Bottom Lounge
Oct. 16–Minneapolis, MN–Triple Rock Social Club
Oct. 18–Denver, CO–Marquis Theatre
Oct. 19–Salt Lake City, UT–In The Venue
Oct. 21–Seattle, WA–Studio Seven
Oct. 22–Vancouver, BC–Rickshaw
Oct. 23–Portland, OR–Hawthorne Theater
Oct. 25–Oakland, CA–Oakland Metro
Oct. 26–Los Angeles, CA–VEX
Oct. 27–Phoenix, AZ–Rocky Point Cantina
Oct. 28–Albuquerque, NM–Launch Pad
Oct. 30–Austin, TX–Red 7
Nov. 1–Atlanta, GA–Masquerade Hell
Nov. 2–Charlotte, NC–The Casbah
Nov. 3–Baltimore, MD–Baltimore Sound Stag
***Order The Wild Hunt here.
****We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here.
Past entries include:
God Is An Astronaut
Scale The Summit
Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Mouth Of The Architect
Call of the Void
Saint Vitus Bar
Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid)
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
All That Remains
A Life Once Lost
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Meshuggah
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)