Anyone who has ever walked away from one of Gwar's gigs understands that, in all likelihood, by evening's end, they'll end up completely soaked in fake blood, urine, pus and vomit. It's become the extraterrestrial metallers' trademark, and they incorporate it into their performances to heighten the overall experience and inject a dose of flippancy into the proceedings.
Conversely, Erik Danielsson, the malevolent singer/bassist who fronts Satan-loving Swedish black-metal magicians Watain, doesn't have a flip bone in his body. To see Watain perform live is nothing if not a pestilent experience, which is just the way Danielsson wants it. Instead of fake blood, Watain drench the crowd with what the frontman maintains is real blood, collected "from the Watain cellars, of course." The band actually douses itself in the same blood during sets, which, when coupled with sweat, creates a pong on their bus a label spokesperson described as "that of an open grave."
From the stage, Danielsson has "seen people both crying and vomiting at the same time." He's even watched fans "taking the blood that we've thrown at them and licking it up off the floor, and giving this genuine impression of being psychopaths all of a sudden."
He said he often wonders "what those people thought when they woke up that morning, in their clean little beds at home. Did they think that they would stand and lick blood from the floor at the concert halls? We aim to present a different reality to them, because this reality exists far away from the nice little houses with clean beds. That is what happens at a Watain gig, and we look forward to bringing this to the U.S., because it's fertile soil for such experiments. It's all about wild, raw fire and getting loose. Some people can take it. Some can't."
In May, Watain's loyal American allegiance will get its first chance to lap up lots of "rotten" blood, when the band crosses the pond for a string of East Coast gigs. The tour will be in support of the group's April 17 release, Sworn to the Dark, which follows up its second album, 2003's Casus Luciferi. While Danielsson wouldn't discuss which bands will be touring with, he did promise "an extremely strong package" boasting "bands that know how to play black metal for real."
Sworn to the Dark, which Watain started working on three years ago during what was an "extremely intense period in the history of Watain," will feature 11 tracks, including "Satan's Hunger," "Dead but Dreaming" and "Storm of the Antichrist." The lyrics for two of the songs on the album were actually provided by some of the band's underground associates: Dissection guitarist Set Teitan penned the cut "Legions of the Black Light," and Ofermod's Belfagor — "who gave us one of his old lyrics because he went into prison and could not finish the album that he had planned," Danielsson said — wrote the song "Darkness and Death."
"We're trying to take away the superfluous parts, in favor of a more easily approachable feeling of the whole album," the frontman said of Sworn to the Dark. "We want to take away the parts that are just confusing and leave the primal, raw energy in there that everyone can understand. This whole album is more traditional. Each melody, each song, is much more powerful. We thought much more about it, and we felt much stronger when we wrote this record than anything we did previously. But it's a pretty natural evolution — to scale away the superfluous parts and leave room for the things that really mean something."
Danielsson claims he tried to "simplify things a bit" with his lyrics on this LP, because "before, I was using a lot of very obscure metaphors, while now, I try to take it to a level where even a kid, at parts, could understand what we're about. The lyrics on this album are, in a way, a lot more banal. It's a strange word to use, but you don't need a master's degree in philosophy to figure out what we're about."
What, ultimately, does Watain hope to accomplish with Sworn to the Dark? "World War III," Danielsson said, matter-of-factly. And while he doesn't advocate church burnings, murders or desecrations, he does see a correlation between black metal and actual physical violence.
"Many people say that they have all these dreams, and they want to do this and they want to do that, and one day they claim they will — but in the end, they end up in their caskets rotting," he explained. "Every thought, every word and every feeling doesn't really hold any relevance until it manifests on a physical plain. That is when it becomes alive. Black metal is not just a funny thing we do in our spare time. It's what we live and breathe. I think [violence is] a very natural component to the black-metal scene ... because black metal is growing grounds for extreme thought, extreme speeches and extreme feelings. At one point or another, these things always manifest. If you call upon death, death will come."
The rest of the week's metal news:
The Dillinger Escape Plan will begin recording their forthcoming LP with producer Steve Evetts (He Is Legend, Sepultura) within the next few weeks. The band hopes to have the disc — which will include "Saigon Whore," "Doll Keeper" and "Party Smasher" — out in September. ... Shadows Fall's Atlantic Records debut, Threads of Life, has been slated for an April 3 release. The album, produced by Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Velvet Revolver), will include "Redemption," "Burning the Lives," "Another Hero Lost" and "Venomous." ... Job for a Cowboy and Despised Icon will join forces for a two-week road trip across North America. The trek launches February 28 in Springfield, Missouri, and wraps up March 15 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. ... Bassist Valentin Rakhmanov has left Nebraska metal collective Cellador. A statement from the band claims "all parties involved in the decision agreed that it would work out best for everyone," and "the issues involved in reaching this conclusion were not personal-related, but rather simply musical differences and contrasting professional agendas." Cellador will audition potential replacements soon, and those interested should contact the band via its MySpace page. ...
Poison the Well, the End and This Is Hell will tour together next month. Just seven dates have been confirmed, and they run from February 22 in Tallahassee, Florida, through March 1 in Jacksonville, Florida. ... Hate Eternal have signed with Metal Blade and are working on fresh material for their forthcoming full-length, which they'll record in June. ... Immolation have wrapped the recording of Shadows in the Light, which is slated for release in April. Look for the set to feature 10 tracks, including "Hate's Plague," "The Weight of Devotion" and "Whispering Death." ... The Haunted and Dark Tranquillity will hit the road in March, with Into Eternity supporting. The tour commences March 19 in Orlando, Florida, and dates are booked through April 13 in Anaheim, California. ... Zao have announced that guitarist Russ Cogdell has rejoined the band following a brief hiatus during which he recovered from knee surgery. Meanwhile, the band has lost drummer Jeff Gretz due to a "difference in attitude and goals." Josh Walters, formerly of the Juliana Theory, has been enlisted as Gretz's replacement. ...
Southern Lord has signed San Francisco's Om, a duo formed by the rhythm section of the disbanded stoner-metal band Sleep. The recording of Om's forthcoming LP will begin this summer at Electrical Audio Studios with Steve Albini (Nirvana, High on Fire). No release date for the yet-untitled LP has been offered. ... From a Second Story Window, Heavy Heavy Low Low and the Cancer Bats will head out on a U.S. run next month. The trek kicks off February 8 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and wraps February 21 in Bakersfield, California. ... With Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and Far's Shaun Lopez behind the boards, Will Haven recently tracked three new songs that will appear on the band's forthcoming summer studio offering. ... Deicide drummer Steve Asheim was recently detained by police in Innsbruck, Austria, and questioned on suspicion of bank robbery. While the drummer was inside a bank, depositing money from merch sales, staffers allegedly grew suspicious of Asheim's appearance. They were further alarmed by the fact that most of money was marked with red dye. The police were summoned, and the drummer was transported downtown, where he was interrogated about a recent bank robbery in the area. Several hours later, after having explained to police that the money was earned by his band and that a leaky pen caused the discoloration, he was released. ...
All-male Seattle stoner-experimental band Lesbian will release their four-song full-length album, Power Hör, March 27. The disc was recorded with producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Asva) at Avast! and Aleph Studios, and the music veers back and forth between ominous atmospheric sound waves and scalding, mid-paced death metal. ... The third album by Norwegian black-metal band Furze may not be heaviest thing you've ever heard, but surely you've never seen a disc with a longer name. UTD: Beneath the Odd-Edge Sounds to the Twilight Contract of the Black Fascist/ The Wealth of the Penetration in the Abstract Paradigmas of Satan will be released February 20 and include two songs featuring Satyricon and 1349 drummer Frost: "A Life Above My Sabbath" and "Beneath the Wings of the Black Vomit Above." ... Sicko Philly thrashers Rumpelstiltskin Grinder have returned to life following the departure of singer Eli Shaika in August. Guitarist Matt Moore and bassist Shawn Riley will now share singing duties. The band's first show in this form will be March 10 in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. Rumpelstiltskin Grinder are currently writing songs for the follow-up to 2005's Buried in the Front Yard. ...
Alabama Thunderpussy recently shot a video for "Words of the Dying Man," which will be featured on the band's March 6 album, Open Fire. The video was shot in their hometown — Richmond, Virginia — in a house party setting with film team Day by Day (Lamb of God, Municipal Waste). "It'll be nothing too fancy or cerebral because, well, that's not what we do," drummer Bryan Cox said. "The goal for this thing is have something entertaining and fun to watch." Open Fire was recorded at the Etching Tin Studios in Richmond with engineer Ian Whalen (Lamb of God, Rah Bras) and will be the group's first recording to feature singer Kyle Thomas. ... Swedish black-metal veterans Naglfar will release their sixth album, Harvest, March 6. The disc includes "Into the Black," "Odium Generis Humani," "Feeding Moloch" and "Plutonium. In the days ahead, the band will shoot a video for "The Darkest Road" with director Roger Johansson (Arch Enemy, In Flames). Naglfar's last album, Pariah, came out in 2005. ...
British '80s thrash-metal band Onslaught will release Killing Peace, their first album in more than 15 years, March 6. The band started working on the new material after re-forming in 2005 to play festivals. Killing Peace will include "Tested to Destruction," "Shock 'N' Awe" and "Planting Seeds of Hate," which features sound bites of President Bush. ... Got $2? You can either get a slice of pizza or see the $2 Brawler Tour, which features Burn in Silence, Ligeia, Apiary and the Handshake Murders. Dates start February 9 in Dover, New Hampshire and run through March 2 in Saratoga Springs, New York. ... Australian goth-metal band Virgin Black will release their new album Requiem - Mezzo Forte on April 3. The disc will be the first release of a three-part series to be rolled out this year. The other discs will be Requiem - Pianissimo and Requiem - Fortissimo.