One journey I have thoroughly enjoyed is the evolution of Sweden’s very own, Watain. The infamous black-metallers have released their seventh studio album in the form of The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (Nuclear Blast). One of the shining notes that really sticks with me is each track down the list tries to outdo the previous track, of which is pretty successful. On the other side, this has been the first Watain release that did not have me hooked at first listen.
Fear not, though, it is certainly a “grower” of an album that just needs some time to sink its teeth into you.
‘Lepers Grace’ is a straight up black metal song that gets to the point and does not overstay its welcome. The interlude will certainly get your head banging before returning to the mayhem (cough cough) of the main riff of the track. Kicking off the second half of The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain is the longest on the album, ‘Before The Cataclysm’. This was one of the most memorable on the album for the fantastic guitar riff in the chorus and the lower tempo to really soak in every last note played. Saving the best for last is the closing epic entitled ‘Septentrion’. The best way I can possibly describe this track from start to finish is simply a boss-battle soundtrack to a favorite video game you keep replaying.
The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain may just be another chapter in the storied legacy of Watain, but it will certainly be one of my favorites when all is said and done. It has been a remarkable journey musically for this group and where they are now, although still having their foundation beneath them, has become something perhaps special in this subgenre.
8 / 10