Watain - _Casus Luciferi_
(Drakkar Productions, 2004)
by: Matthias Noll (
Bands of this calibre and within this particular style usually end up on Nuclear Blast with a watered-down musical concept, a slicker than slick Abyss production, full-page ads in all major magazines and artwork done by the guy from Dark Tranquillity. In fact, Watain are far less necro and primitive than their status, artwork and deal with Drakkar suggests. Although these Swedes usually get mentioned in the same breath as the most obscure and usually mainly Darkthrone inspired bands, Watain are a heavily Dissection influenced outfit. Without further examination, one might even call them Dissection clones; but from my point of view (and probably helped by the fact that I never fully comprehended the incredible amount of praise bestowed upon _Storm of the Light's Bane_), Watain have surpassed the band that may have been their main inspiration. _Casus Luciferi_ features eight long, mainly hell-paced and always break-laden songs with a multitude of layered guitar melodies and harmonic textures -- more so than on their debut album _Rabid Death's Curse_ -- but Watain still keep an impeccable balance between being melodic, raw, black and heavy for the full length of this album. Although the truer than true crowd might not like to hear this, _ Casus Luciferi_ -- not as a whole, just in a couple of places -- is not all too far away from some of the heavier and better moments on the latest Dimmu Borgir records as far as some melodies, bridge sections and build-ups go. However, the final result is far more convincing, because this band manages to sound fresh and preserve an underground feeling. They are able to write more interesting riffs, better and at the same time neither cheesy nor happy sounding melodic hooks, and songs that despite being no verse/chorus/verse affairs flow incredibly well and capture the listener's attention from start to finish. All of this without ever having to mask a lack of substance by being more pompous than the Sun King's court -- no keyboards, female vocals or fad-of-the-day gimmicks like an orchestra, cross dressing or other assorted faggottry. The enjoyment of the excellent musical content of _CL_ is enhanced by a natural sounding and nowhere overproduced production job and -- surprise, surprise-- there's even a clearly audible bass which takes an active role in some of the compositions. For Ildjarn fanatics this might be way too commercial, for those with even the slightest interest in more melodic manifestations of black metal this is a must have -- and I bet my left testicle that Jon Noedtveidt is not going to be able to create anything remotely as good with the reformed Dissection.
(article published 1/30/2004)
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