One of the things I want to do one day is to sit down and watch Breaking Bad. But I don’t want to do this just yet; I want to wait till the hype from the series has died down. This also applied to Watain’s The Wild Hunt album; I wanted to review it while every reviewer on the face of the earth was not raving about it. I did listen to it when it was released, but I had to make sure I wasn’t just caught up in the hype. But deep into 2014, I can confirm it is still a phenomenal masterpiece that deserved its entry on every best of 2013 metal list. It is the best black metal album since Watain’s 2010 album Lawless Darkness.
After chilling opener ‘Night Vision’, the band launch headfirst into the darkness with ‘De Profundis’, with Erik Danielsson’s iconic scream dominating the intro to the track. It is a chaotic track but one that is expertly crafted. I found myself punching the air during the end of ‘De Proundis’. When listening to the third track ‘Black Flames March’, I felt like I was marching towards oblivion with Watain as my soundtrack. If I do end up in hell and Watain is on the soundtrack, I think I might be okay burning in the fires of damnation. By the time the album’s most recognizable track came on, the single ‘All That May Bleed’, its position on my end of year list was inevitable.
This is an album made by skilled musicians who know their craft, yet also know how to surprise the listener. This is not a standard black metal album; it plays on the expectations of black metal. ‘The Child Must Die’ doesn’t scream black metal within the first few notes of the song, but it certainly has evil spewing out the riffs. As with all black metal nowadays, the influence of Quorthon runs through the veins of this album. The song ‘They Rode On’ acts almost as if it was a sequel to Bathory’s ‘One Rode to Asa Bay’. It’s hauntingly beautiful, Erik Danielsson surprised me here as a vocalist on this song, he’s truly one of the best working today. ‘Sleepless Evil’ feels like a sequel to ‘Reaping Death’ from Lawless Darkness, while ‘The Wild Hunt’ could be seen as a tribute to Emperor, there is a definite In The Nightside Eclipse influence for this song. Single ‘Outlaw’ is another malicious track on the album with a truly hellish ending. Final track ‘Holocaust Dawn’ may not be as epic as album closer ‘Waters of Ain’ from Lawless Darkness but it is still an unsettling closer despite being somewhat anti-climactic.
The Wild Hunt is a serious contender for album of the decade, a simply outstanding achievement that could potentially redefine the black metal genre.
Best Tracks: “All That May Bleed”, “They Rode On”, “Outlaw”
1. Night Vision
2. De Profundis
3. Black Flames March
4. All That May Bleed
5. The Child Must Die
6. They Rode On
7. Sleepless Evil
8. The Wild Hunt
10. Ignem Veni Mittere
11. Holocaust Dawn
Erik Danielsson – lead vocals, bass, guitar
Håkan Jonsson – drums
Pelle Forsberg – guitar