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Watain: Sworn to the Dark

The third full length studio release, Sworn to the Dark from the Swedish black metal outfit known as Watain is a call to arms for fans of the genre. The music is delivered with such an unbridled intensity that the listener is engulfed in their storm of chaos right from the onset. The epic, punishing opening number "Legions Of The Black Light" utilizes varying tempos, killer guitar riffs with a swift melodic solo towards the end, coupled with a supremely powerful and massive drum attack to create an instant classic. Other than the truly lethal performances on Sworn to the Dark as a whole, the thing which stands out the most is the notable improvements and attention given to the sound and production in comparison with their past efforts. The guitars have been beefed up considerably and while they are still at times a bit thin, for the most part the sound has been thickened nicely. What also works very effectively is just how much diversity they bring to the table with their music, for example they can pummel you into submission with a straight ahead attack on "Storm of the Antichrist" and also demonstrate a knack for intricate melodies on tracks like "The Light that Burns the Sun" , "The Sepent's Chalice" and the instrumentals "Withershins" and "Dead But Dreaming". There is not one bad track on this monster and Sworn to the Dark is 60 minutes of some of the most compelling and entrancing music ever delivered in BM. No Return? Indeed, after one listen to this there is no turning back.

Track Listing
1) Legions Of The Black Light
2) Satan's Hunger
3) Withershins (instr)
4) Storm of the Antichrist
5) The Light that Burns the Sun
6) Sworn to the Dark
7) Underneath The Cenotaph
8) The Serpent's Chalice
9) Darkness and Death
10) Dead But Dreaming (instr)
11) Stellavore

Added: August 14th 2007
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Related Link: The Ajna Offensive
Hits: 2897
Language: english

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Watain: Sworn to the Dark
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-08-14 19:01:11
My Score:

Much like last years Now, Diabolical from Satyricon, Sworn to the Dark from Watain is a hate filled, lethal black metal album that is well produced, well played, and surprisingly FILLED with plenty of tasty grooves. That's right, a black metal album steeped in the sounds of the early 90's yet not afraid to show a little bump and grind. This one's a corker from start to finish, featuring some of the beefiest and crunchiest guitar riffs the genre has seen since Immortal's Sons of Northern Darkness. Not dependent on tune after tune littered with non-stop blast beats, repetitive riffs, and one dimensional vocals, Watain instead mix brutality with melody, something that is lacking with many a black metal act. Don't expect too much atmosphere or spooky soundscapes though, as these guys go for the juggular more often than not, bashing their way through killer tracks like "Satan's Hunger", the epic "Legions of the Black Light", and the old-school "The Serpent's Chalice".

At just under an hour, it might be just a tad long, but there's no denying the craftsmanship here, and the sheer devotion to the genre that these guys seem to put forth. If you have even the slightest interest in black metal, this one needs to get into your CD rotation right away.

Watain: Sworn to the Dark
Posted by Hugh Dark, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-07-25 20:06:29
My Score:

This is the very top-shelf of releases so far this year. Actually, this is one of the best "pure" black metal releases ever. That puts Watain in some pretty strong company, but the band will easily be right at home.

Combining musical influence from Dissection, Bathory and some Immortal (chord arpeggiation); what sets these guys apart from most others is sheer, across the board, musical competence. Of course, you have to remember that this music form has a very select membership that does not usually attract the technical elite, but still… these guys are really clever!

Firstly, the melody is very shadowy and dark and is influenced from those melancholy single lead lines that Nödtveidt was so famous for. They seem to simultaneously depress and entice you, whilst making you feel somewhat at ease in taking the whole satanic ethos in. The band seems to be a very willing conduit for the spiritual/musical ideology of Jon; who is probably steering this whole thing from the afterlife. Well, that was kind of his plan and the band has picked up on that or…not? Anyway, the influence is not overdone and more importantly, all the original tenants of the black metal foundation are present; along with the bands unique identity and touch.

The arrangements can be slightly epic without ever overtly sounding that way. The songs just have this eerie way of creeping up on you. Your first clue is the song length; namely, 'Legions of the Black Night' & 'Stellarvore' which both clock in at over 8 inspired minutes. Those two songs are so engaging that only "the residual curiosity to know more" gets you looking at the time-elapsed counter. It's all so hard to define because of the progressive subtlety of the music. What…? "Progressive"…!? That last word is not so out of place when taking a second listen to the songs, which is absolutely essential!!! Singer/Bass player Erik Danielsson often times goes out on a separate musical journey with his bass during the songs; eventually finding his way back into the middle—the very place where you hardly noticed he'd gone from in the first place! It should be stated that the bass is recorded very clear and up front in the mix. In fact, you are almost befuddled at the discovery of it all. This band is EXTREMLY talented at hiding things in plain view. At 3:22 in 'The Light That Burns The Sun' they actually channel Mental Vortex era Coroner for a brief time and make it sound completely black. It shows just how clever and diverse this band really is in lieu of what is supposed to be a very musically limiting genre! That hypnotizing undercurrent of melody effectively distracts you again and again. Just listen to how many times they change up rhythm in the songs (keep a tally sheet). You will be very surprised indeed! (It may be helpful to sit in an adjacent room, behind the music.) They will also stick in a quick stop out of nowhere (they're everywhere) as heard in 'Satan's Hunger' or even a unique drum break (Legions Of The Black Night). Throw in some key/tempo changes, eerie instrumentals and the "progressive" case is being made. I can only imagine listening to this stoned. It would just absolutely blow the doors off those stoner/doom efforts; all without any effects, courtesy of a most engaging host of a production! This is clear and well separated without ever sounding modern!

This enigmatic and subliminal beast is capped off with excellent vocals that always find their rhythmic cue ('Sworn to the Dark' is a modern anthem) and just flat-out good songwriting and instrumentation. Sworn to the Dark is a true testimonial of how to perform and record classic black metal and never sound dated.

Just like the dark…The more you explore, the more you discover!

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