WATAIN Awwww! Adorable!
Sara Gewalt

"I TAKE GREAT OFFENSE to people referring to me and my brothers as hypocrites, but what else [would I] expect from petty sensationalist journalists?" Apparently, Erik Danielsson, singer and mouthpiece for Sweden's Watain, doesn't like it when you question the legitimacy of his band's Satanic and misanthropic persona. He continues, "If Watain was an elaborate act it would not radiate half of the brilliance and strength that it now does."

Truth be told, Danielsson's statement is not too far off base. It could be argued that Watain is the only contemporary black metal band that truly matters, but not because they are redefining the genre. Instead, Lawless Darkness, the band's fourth and newest album, sounds like it could have been recorded in the early 1990s during black metal's second wave. It's pure Bathory and Dissection worship, a complete nod to the dark days of yore.

What sets Watain apart from all the other corpse-painted, blood-drenched, blaspheming black metal bands out there is the reality that their image is not a gimmick. They are not in it for the shock value or the money; Watain has a much higher (or lower) purpose in mind.

To Danielsson, his inspiration draws from inherent forces from within: "All men are born with individual personality traits of far more profound nature than those imposed on us by [outside] influences. To me, Satanism presented a perfect language and form of expression for who I was and what I yearned to become."

A Watain show is a religious ceremony, a time for the band to pay homage to their Gods. The theatrics and evil imagery, the dousing of themselves in (real) animal blood, and all of Danielsson's philosophies on rejecting humanity for nothingness is their way of grasping at their own liberation. The stage is a powerful platform for any artist, with spontaneity and a captive audience under their command, a performer could completely alter the outlook of others. Despite all his pervasive rhetoric, Danielsson insists that Watain is in it for the band's own growth, and not to convert minions.

"Watain's enlightenment and spiritual transcendence is my purpose, but if we manage to take some others with us, I will not be displeased."