Watain - Casus Luciferi CD Review

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2004-04-11 : canisdomine
From Terrorizer Magazine
9 / 10
ALBUM OF THE MONTH March 2004

Whilst it's to be celebrated that black metal has proved to be one of the most fecund wellsprings of musical ideas in metal over the last decade, the term itself applied just as often to the incomprehensibly dungeonic howlings of the ultra-underground elitists, the saccharine symphonicals, the avant-garde prestidigitators, the parping folk enthusiasts and every conceivable point inbetween, it's easy to forget that in the beginning it was in large part just metal[$italics], in the sense which pertains to riffs, hooks, choruses and songwriting. Held aloft by many as the ultimate black metal experience, Mayhem's 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas' was innovative more in terms of its riffing style and oppressive atmosphere than in creating any dramatic, shackle-breaking extensions to the genre. Indeed, one of Euronymous's favourite rants concerned the lack of passion and morbidity, rather than musical creativity per se, of the early 90s' popular death metal bands.
This, of course, leads us onto Watain. Bursting forth (or, as their website would have it, "crawling out of Satan's cunt" - Satan a woman? Makes sense to me) from the demo/battery of split 7"s circuit with the popular 'Rabid Death's Curse' in 2002, the four Swedes reminded us all just how effective raw black metal can be without bothering with any of that flim-flam and gimmickry which, whilst undoubtedly contributing to the genre's longevity, has also unhinged it from its earthly roots. Watain's genius is in recapturing that original glorious triumph, engaging their audience and creating musical work with a sense of permanence by connecting the dots between the old and the new.
There is, basically, nothing to get too clever about with Watain; they're quite simply a fearsome black metal machine with superbly-honed riff-writing skills wedded to a rare talent for engineering the ebb and flow of a song for maximum emotional impact. As trends and scenes have come and gone, the great strength of the Swedish metal tradition has always been in bending the flavour of the month into a shape which preserves the bottom-line metalness (leaving the Norwegians to hit-and-miss with their highfalutin ideas to their black hearts' content), and Watain are no exception. In that respect, it's no exaggeration to suggest that Watain are the Dissection of our times.
Written by JAMES "HARRY" HINCHLIFFE