WATAIN - Rabid Death's Curse (NOEVDIA - picLP 2008)
Nowadays everyone in the scene and outside of it have heard about Watain. Yes, this Swedish black metal band became huge! They’re certainly one of the biggest black metal bands ever, which is even more weird knowing that they were formed only in 1998, so years after the explosion of Scandinavian black metal. And yes, some may argue whether Watain became more popular because of the whole image, total satanic devotion, the whole aesthetics around the band or due to their music… Hmm, I suppose it depends who you’re talking to. Some may be totally fascinated by the image, some other may simply love the music. I personally think it’s a bit of both… Yes, Watain made the black metal image important again, after a time, when most of the classic black metal band seemed to feel bored with it and became… hmm, normal, if I can say so. Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon, Gehenna – they all dropped the visual aspects of their music and with it the whole aura around this music was just gone… and then Watain – but let’s be honest, it wasn’t just them, but also some other (mainly Swedish) bands like Armagedda, Ondskapt, Funeral Mist, Ofermod – appears with ultra fanatical satanic music and imagery. And it turned out that these bands gave a new life into this genre. And for Watain it all went so far that now they play huge festivals as one of the headliners (I am sure that mainly due to the show they put out) and the band is recognised by everyone. Yes, they took a long road since “Rabid Death's Curse” LP. This was my first album of Watain, which I have heard back in 2001. The same year I managed to interview Erik and even putted an awesome live photo of him on the cover of the second issue of my fanzine. Ha, so many years ago, damn! Now he’s on the covers of the major magazines, not fanzines anymore, but it is good to go back to those old days and listen to “Rabid Death's Curse”, as I still like this LP a lot.
I suppose the first thing, which is going to strike you, when listening to “Rabid Death's Curse” is the production of this album, which is way, way more harsh and obscure than the albums, which will follow the debut years later. This sound stinks with sulphur and infernal tar and is truly raw, but in a good way… I mean, this is classic black metal production, in my opinion quite alike to such “Kronet til Konge” for example (I have this impression especially when listening to the title song!)… It is harsh and rotten, but still quite powerful and more so, it brings out dark atmosphere of the music. At the same time it’s not perfect, as I realize that sometimes you may lose some guitar parts, here and there the riffs may be slightly unreadable or the music gets chaotic or messy a little. But this is black metal! And the music is obviously also different to the future, more popular Watain albums. Here everything is more uncompromising, faster, it’s cold and grim stuff… and way less melodic! Right with the first song “The Limb Crucifix” this LP is an explosion of utter hatred and an example for the classic black metal means. Nowadays everyone states that Watain has sold out, that their music became too acceptable to some public. Well, you may agree or not… but if you do, then give a listen to “Rabid Death's Curse” as this is as close to the origins of black metal as Watain has ever been to.
So, here is harsh and obscure black metal, very much in the vein of many Scandinavian classics, but that doesn’t mean it is unworthy or repetitive piece of junk. Ha, no way! This is truly awesome album, with several devastating – or should I say desecrating – tracks. Yes, it walks the path which was trodden by some cult bands like (mid era) Darkthrone, Mayhem, Triumphator, Funeral Mist, Marduk, of course there’re also some signs of Dissection style of arrangements and melodies, but not too many… YET (hehe). What I like about “Rabid Death's Curse” is how riff based, how aggressive this album is. I mentioned the song “The Limb Crucifx” – what a killer opener it is, with many fast and crushing parts that are forceful and violent as fuck. Then the title track is very much in the vein of Swedish black metal, of bands like Dissection and Sacramentum as there are even some traces of melody here and there… and yes, this is probably my favourite song here. It goes on and on and doesn’t stop, “Rabid Death's Curse” has awesome riffs spread all over the album, there are many truly killer parts. And I also just worship the atmosphere, which Watain has created on this LP. It is just dark, malevolent, cold and grim…
On a downside of “Rabid Death's Curse” I can say that it is a shame that the vocals are so low in the mix, I mean Eric Danielsson is a killer vocalist, but here his voice often disappears behind the wall of riffs and drumming, which is a shame, as his croaky voice would give more power to the whole music. Sometimes, even with the lyrics in the hand, it’s difficult to find out where is he, what lines he’s “singing”, which is a shame!
Standout tracks: “The Limb Crucifx”, “Rabid Death's Curse”
Final rate: 75/100