Watain
Rabid Death’s Curse
Drakkar Productions
2004 / 2005
A



drakkar Productions, Gaul’s cache for pretentiously difficult to obtain musics, shirts, and other ephemera, has a penchant for turning up on every metalhead’s shit list. To be sure, the ire drawn has nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with quantity.

Allegedly, Drakkar releases are unleashed in 1000 count print runs; inevitably, a good majority of these CDs end up on eBay before they’re even posted for mail-order sale. To make matters even worse, nearly all of the bands signed to Avignon’s Drakkar are the ones that happen to be defining—or redefining—the Black Metal genre.

Following the rat tunnels to distro units, or pleading with some cleverly moniker’d eBayer to sell off-site is tedious to say the least. Thankfully, everything converges at one of two places: Ajna Offensive, or Andee’s Aquarius Records. Even with these sources, landing a copy of Rabid Death’s Curse has taken an entire year—long enough for its initial print run to sell out; for Drakkar to reissue it; for Watain to record and release a follow up, Casus Luciferi. Take note: There was an absurd amount of wrangling done on this reviewer’s part to secure this CD. And even after the time elapsed, and expectations accrued, Rabid Death’s Curse does not disappoint.

First listen is intimidating: This is a whirling, physical music that demands much of its performer. Vocals sit flatly upon darkly undulating guitar lines that glisten into harmonics and roll over into churning darkness. Snare and cymbals crash over vaguely Wagnerian bass lines. These sounds are incessant. They are unrelenting, and focused and prejudicial. And once the lyrics are perused, sonics become nearly superannuated: The spoken word is what empowers Watain’s wrath—an understanding that must—or should—give pause to those who refuse to accept the basic tenets of sound as magic, as aural alchemy.

Lyrically, Watain’s word is not so different from Keats’ Endymion. Add some ontological Hebraism, a heaping mass of malefic verse, and some Church Fathers’ talking points, and the ink well is emptied. One of the most interesting—and provocative—features of Watain’s lyrics are their scant mentions of Him; what remains instead is an odd, almost quasi-Biblical writing about Hell as non-local, as condition, or psychological stance—where man is extant only as a static, anguish drenched animal, reduced to odorous baseness and perfidy.

Conceptually, notions such as these draw a wide girth: This is the ilk of Aquinas, Agrippa, Augustine, and Dionysius the Areopagite. Confused? You shouldn’t be: Watain know that the most potent blasphemy consists in not only defiling that which is Holy—but also in using the Holy against the Holy. Furthermore, refusing to anthropomorphize demons and devils as Moloch, Belial, Baal,, or Mammon is an intriguing touch. Without forming these into the physical, Watain posits a horrific notion: These creatures of lore that make up Catholic cosmology south of heaven, grace canvasses, and fill books are not real; the impulses that one carries, the crepuscular instincts that realize themselves in rapes, tortures and murders are the real yield of Satan.

To listen to Rabid Death’s Curse is to smell dried blood, to smell excrement; to witness—aurally at least—a ritual of the most malign sort: This is serious music; extensively planned; cultivated from lies, hate, and guilt. Finding Black Metal that stretches boundaries in such an untiringly elastic way is unusual to say the least. And Rabid Death’s Curse is one of the best, from ’04, from ’05—from any year. Highest recommendation.


Reviewed by: Stewart Voegtlin
Reviewed on: 2005-05-18
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