5.4.2011

Watain interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)

Evil Cash No Boundaries 

Interview: Kuronen
(Pic: Vierimaa)

It is always interesting to bystand a band breaking out of the underground. Watain, blood-soaked and spiritually-charged black metallers from Sweden, are currently in such a situation. You used to read interviews of them in self-financed parchments of devotion such as Davthvs and Horrible Eyes. Now you see glossy spreads in the likes of Terrorizer and Close-Up. Sworn to the Dark earned credits in countless year-end polls and commenced tours that lasted longer than the lifespan of your regular hyped-up black metal record. Being handpicked by Celtic Frost for a European tour must have felt something of an achievement.

It remains to be seen whether Watain will be able to conserve their integrity through a development that sees the sound of the band, as well as the establishment and fan base, growing. This is not to say that the concept of the underground isn’t in a state of change, creating new layers of access and marginality over layers that are eradicated. Erik Danielsson reckons his band will be able to keep at bay any and all delusions and disillusions put forth by the mainstream metal bazaar. Judging by his words, the matter has devoured some speculation.

“I suppose a lot could be said about this matter but in the end it comes down to one question; should the achievements of artistry such as ours be limited by the rules and ideals of a scene or subculture, or by the vastness of our own will and imagination? The latter surely aligns more with the transcendental Satanic nature of Watain, always have, always will. We for sure honor the mysticism and obscurity of the black/death metal underground tradition, and Watain in essence will always correspond with it. But the tradition I am talking about is not carried on by today’s demo bands, who seem only to be interested in the limitations of their CDr’s and the upholding of an “never let black metal meet the masses” ideal that was abandoned 15 years ago even by Euronymous himself, who finally understood that Satanic art is destined to reach far and wide.

“Do you think Sabbath Bloody Sabbath would have been a better and more potent album if it had been a one copy demo that Tony Iommi played for his best friends at special occasions only? Or would Mona Lisa have been more of a masterpiece had it hung unseen in da Vinci’s basement? Great art crafted with true intention, will and anger is meant to reach far! Slayer already understood it in 1983: Evil has no boundaries!

“We have no doubts when it comes to the potency of our creations, neither are we ashamed of them! Thus we have no wish to limit their accessibility, which I can understand if many other bands have. If I would play shit-music I would also want to limit my releases to 20 copies “only for true die hards”.

“No, the old underground tradition is rather upheld in the minds of the true artists of this genre, who are in close relation with the infernal abomination that constitute it’s heart. Few have experienced it, and few will, for few have got what it takes to venture that far into the Darkside, where true Black/Death Metal is given birth. It needs the vaults and catacombs of the underground to nourish from their darkness and mystery, but evil has no boundaries and fire can not be kept inside a cage forever. Holding on to this part of the music genre is not why we have come unto the earth. We have come with fire and brimstone, for all to see and take part of. We are convinced that we have integrity and conviction enough not to get polluted by the human materialist ideals of the music industry. If our goals would have been the same as theirs, sure, but they never have and they never will be. If they only new what doors they have opened now... Beware, for a black dog has been set free in their big golden halls, hungering for the limbs of unsuspecting children.”

“Black metal has no place for sheep-minded loser mentality or lazy stupidity”, one quip of Erik’s, is a slogan lush in its interpretative dimensions. Should it be viewed as a sign of Satanic uncompromise, a higher will, good old Protestant ethics or, oh shudder ye leftist ideologues, grass-roots capitalism? Perhaps a merging of all? Watain yearn to make art that is timeless and unworldly. The problem is that this worldlessness doesn’t always translate very well amidst concealed aspirations of global conquest. Who’s helping them? Sworn to the Dark was licensed to Season of Mist, a label not exactly the biggest wallet in the business but not very diminutive either.

“Season of Mist has got nothing to do with Watain as artists, signing to them was merely a logical step in our victorious path to world domination. When you choose in which bank to open up a bank account you simply choose the one that fits your demands best and you feel is most professional and treat you with care, right? Then if you buy weapons and drugs or if you buy a house with your money is not of their concern. I think labels are a really uninteresting subject and I don’t understand why people want to know anything about it. The only “label” we have ever felt close to ideologically is Norma Evangelium Diaboli, which we have NOT in any way parted ways with.”

There are many parts on Sworn to the Dark that operate with an even-tempered mid-tempo, and it is not uncommon for these passages to sound a little lethargic, especially since the clarity of the sound does not lend them the benefit of barbaric rawness or full-blown heaviness. The word that perhaps best encapsulates the atmosphere is 'rocking'—yet unfortunately not rocking in a Deströyer 666 manner but more in a late Carpathian Forest fashion. It is eased down yet encapsulates certain catchiness. Erik does not quite agree.

“Eased down? Fuck you!

“Why would we agree with someone commenting the album in a negative way? We are not retarded!  We leave this kind of excusing, nodding mentality to the millions of shit bands out there, they have better use for it than us. I haven’t met anyone whose negative opinion about Watain have actually been one not based upon jealousy or stupidity. They are all the same. “A bit too lengthy”! Hah! It is just a matter of how much darkness one can handle. Of course we would never feature a riff that we were not fully convinced by, that would be pissing yourself in the mouth. No, we prefer pissing on others instead. Fuck the world and its futile currents, let’s make art that is timeless and world-less!”

Certain voices who have witnessed Watain’s live rituals more often than the three times I have seen them in 2004-2008 have expressed worry that the band’s extensive touring, e.g. the Dissection excursion, may somehow mechanise Watain's malice, make the trappings of industry routines accompany their bewitching live evil on such an intense basis that the spiritual uniqueness of erstwhile Watain might not be recuperated.

“I can assure you that the tour with Dissection certainly did not allow for much industry routines and similar nonsense. It was a two month long crusade of Satanic metal chaos, and truly one of the most successful and powerful journeys we have ever embarked on as a band.


“When you ask questions such as these, it seems like you presuppose that we are some kind of normal band, willing to adapt to the standardized patterns of the music scene… This almost insults me! Don’t you understand that certain parts of Black/Death Metal are actually genuine in their power? That some things are not made out of plastic? You can put a wolf in a zoo but it will still KILL when it gets a chance. You can light a candle on your romantic dinner table but its fire can still burn down the house if you leave it unguarded.”

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