Watain

Pumpehuset, Copenhagen - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

At the beginning of the year, Watain released their long awaited follow-up to 2013’s The Wild Hunt, Trident Wolf Eclipse, and after having just finished a Swedish tour, they now at the end of the year hooked up with new support in the form of Rotting Christ and Profanatica, and expanded their touring horizons to the rest of Europe - fittingly, the tour was called the Trident’s Curse. A hint to the three bands, and a tie-in with the album title at the same time; someone had probably had an evil little chuckle over this as it was decided.

“Will you burn with us, Copenhagen?”
- Erik ‘E.’ Danielsson (vocals)


Even though Copenhagen was the first show on the European leg of the tour, Watain still brought a highly rehearsed show. It was the classic setup - a stage decorated with lots and lots of metallic devices, inverted crosses and the like, hooked up to gas. While a Gregorian like chanting echoed from the speakers, main man Danielsson took the stage with a flaming torch, setting things on fire as he went along. A bit of prayer time before the altar in front of the drumkit, and the band was finally ready to begin the show. The crowd was pressing in, and things were nearing a climax of sorts.
And so the band began, and things ran down their predetermined path without glitches or bumps. Watain was like a well-oiled machine, running on routine and know-how.

Or, well, know-how. That can be discussed. What I mean is, they know what they want out of a show, and they know exactly what to do to deliver it.
What I also mean, is that I believe what they want out of a show, and what I want out of a show, is not the same thing.
Watain is first and foremost a visual act. From the ragged clothing and intricate corpse-paint, to the flaming stage decorations, further on to the way they physically move with the music. The latter is primarily coined at Danielsson, as the rest of the band seemed content in delivering a monotonous performance, locked in place and with one foot on the monitor.
A visual performance is all fine and well, I quite enjoy having some nifty visuals added to the music and performance. And there you have it. The issue i take with this band. Because it seems to me as though Watain doesn’t care much for the music and performance; they seem to live in a truth that tells them visuals is all that is needed. The music is ripping of every cliché in the black metal book, not showing one single note of personality, just as there wasn’t one second of the show where it felt like the band was truly present, and not just running on those smooth rails of routine. Not once was the audience addressed without it being some standard phrase said a million times over. And no interest seemed to be held in whether the audience responded to it or not.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Well, that’s not true, I was expecting exactly what I got - but there had been a shimmer of hope for something more.
I admit, this probably just isn’t for me. A band that chooses to adhere to a strict set of rules, rather than let loose and give something of themselves isn’t something I find all that interesting.
The sold out venue around me, said that not all metal fans feel the way I do. Objectively speaking, I’d say Rotting Christ got a louder and wilder response than Watain, but their music and performance lends itself better to that sort of thing, and Watain surely got a good response in their own right.
Not from me though, certainly not from me.

Setlist (incomplete):

The Child Must Die
Furor Diabolicus
Sacred Damnation
Malfeitor

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