WATAIN are one of the most prolific and notorious names in modern black metal. Since first emerging in 1998, the Swedes have forged a formidable reputation thanks to a solid back catalogue of records and incendiary live performances. Now, just several weeks into a new year, WATAIN have returned with Trident Wolf Eclipse, a record which harks back to their primitive and visceral roots, and to celebrate their new opus the band have took to the road for a series of album launch shows. We caught their only UK show in London to witness the hellfire.
With only one support band on the bill, fellow countrymen DEGIAL had the audacious task of warming the crowd up for the main attraction and the Swedish quartet achieved just that through a solid live display of their blend of death metal. Pummelling dual riffing from Rickard Höggren and Hampus Eriksson were laced with neat hooks and tight grooves that carried the momentum of the band’s sound and Eriksson‘s visceral snarls held their own in the chaotic mix. It was a refined and nicely packaged sound, demonstrating DEGIAL‘s professionalism, and whilst they didn’t offer anything particular new or fresh, their performance was one that ticked all the boxes of the death metal formula. A solid set from the sole supporting act of the night.
At this point in their career, WATAIN need no introduction. Their reputation in the live environment is notorious as the band’s ritualistic practices and love for pyrotechnics have helped them propel to the heights of extreme music. And with a new album under their belts comes a new chapter in WATAIN‘s exploration of horror and occult and their performance in the capital showcased a band that was firing on all cylinders.
Opening with Legions of the Black Light, it became immediately clear that WATAIN were intending to take no prisoners and they achieved that just that through a formidable and visceral live display of blistering riffs, machine-gun fire drumming and harrowing shrieks and growls from frontman Erik Danielsson. Whilst it was disappointing that the theatrics and pyro that we’ve come to expect were in short display, WATAIN let their music do the talking and by operating like a well-oiled machine, the band ploughed through a set that covered all aspects of their career. From the instrumental epic of Lawless Darkness flowing effortlessly into the iconic Malfeitor to the vintage cuts of Angelrape and Devil’s Blood, the band left no stone unturned and each track was performed expertly; one which carried bite and adrenaline-pumping chaos that the swelling crowd lapped up with absolute worship.
Despite the fact this run of shows comes in support of their latest opus, it was somewhat surprising that WATAIN opted to focus on a career-spanning set rather than focus entirely on executing their new set of sonic mayhem live. That being said, when they turned to their newest material the tracks held up impeccably well. Nuclear Alchemy‘s relentless speed sounds even more intimidating live than on record, the grooves and twisting rhythm of Sacred Damnation had heads banging and Furor Diabolicus demonstrated some of the finest vocal displays from Erik Danielsson on the night. Proving testament to their ability to maintain their intensity, WATAIN delivered a stunning headlining show in London and their final on-stage ritual mixed with a fine cover of The Somberlain before dousing members of the audience in blood rounded off a performance of sheer aural fire. It was a tight and visceral performance from one of the strongest bands from modern black metal.