Watain’s agony and ecstasy is the seventh album by the Swedish pagan black metal horde Wait.
AFTER: NORTHLANE: From the lyrics to the avant-garde inclusion of elements of trance and DNB, Obsidian truly presents a new era for Northlane. // OCEAN GROVE: another trip to Oddworld COMMENTS: OCEANGROVE: In the air forever // SAVIOUR : Shine and Fade // RAMMSTEIN: Weather // Void OF VISION: Chronicles II: Paradise // SINGLE PLAN: Harder than it looks
Embracing their deep devotion to the tradition of the first second wave of black metal, their new document also takes their music in surprising new directions. A few days before the release of the album, singer Erik Danielsson made a point of explaining the concept behind it and how they bring their esoteric and obscure performances directly into the studio with them.
Can you first explain the meaning of the title of the new album?
We wanted a title that seemed to us to be as representative as possible of what was on this album. So I was thinking how cool it would be if Sodom released an album titled The agony and ecstasy of Sodomor if hellhammer had freed Hellhammer’s Agony and Ecstasy. I would really like to hear these albums! (Laughs) So I had that in mind. But to try to keep it simple, we’ve always worked with emotional extremes with Watain, and that’s the kind of black metal I grew up with. Agony and ecstasy can be seen as altered states of consciousness that aren’t that far removed from the feelings metal generally produces, so that’s sort of where it’s at. And I like that the name of the band is there, because it removes a layer between us and the listener. It’s sort of opening up a bit, and I like that. I like the idea of the raw experience, I like when the musical experience can become a bit immersive and you can feel close to it. That’s what I had in mind with this title.
There are ups and downs in this album. We stay comes as a total surprise. It’s very different from what you expect from Watain.
Yeah, it is, absolutely. Some of my favorite albums have those kind of songs, or at least that kind of dynamic. I think a lot of people reacted when Metallic put Fade to black on ride the lightning. But I love being there because it opens up and makes the whole experience something else. It catches you a little off guard and brings you a little bit more into the album, I think, with these different rhythm songs. [We Remain] is different, that’s for sure. I think it has a lot of later era Bathory – Hammerheart and twilight of the gods – for the musical inspiration there. If you see the whole album as a journey, I see We stay like an undersea passage, where you’re in this underwater, abyssal darkness for a while, then you come back up and keep going.
It goes in a pretty dark direction after that with Funeral winter.
I’m also pretty happy with how the track listing ended up. It’s still an art form in itself, if you can get it right. I tend to like to leave these things to chance. I love writing lyrics and making music etc. but when it comes to everything that happens in the studio and afterwards I tend to take a step back because I want to see how the songs work by themselves, without touching them too much. a lot myself. So the track listing was unintentional, but it has some cool drama. It has a pretty cool dynamic and I’m pretty excited about how it all plays out from start to finish. Sometimes I didn’t feel it, but this time it definitely did.
It must be pretty amazing to see the songs fall into the right place like that.
He is! It’s really amazing to be able to record an album in the first place. There’s a lot of magic, for lack of a better word, around recording. There’s a lot of weird bullshit: random coincidences and things that start to make sense that you had no idea when you started, and I think that’s great. I think that’s how it should be. When I listen to my favorite albums, I rarely approach them in a rational or structured way. I think these are all puzzles. They are miracles, in a way. It’s very hard for me to imagine Destruction in the recording studio Infernal Overpower. I just see a hell of a storm ahead of me! The technicality of the songs is somehow detached from this experience. It’s as if you are experiencing a magical event, or something like that. That’s what I strive for, every time, but that’s the downside of being in a band: you know how it all went. We know what the studio is like etc. But it’s something we take into consideration when we record and when we write music. We make sure it happens in circumstances that represent the music.
How did you create the atmosphere of the current album?
Our studio this time was an old church in the countryside here in northern Sweden, in the woods. The owner had just finished transforming it into a studio, and it was huge! It was like a pink floyd studio size! We’ve filled it with our altars and stage props and the things we like to surround ourselves with when making music with Watain. Of course it’s about feeling inspired and feeling connected to the work you do, but it’s also great to be able to remember it like that. It’s great for me to have that in mind when I remember the album, rather than a sterile environment, like a hospital, or something like that.
It certainly sounds like recording in such a place, in this environment that you created, had a very powerful impact on the album as you were doing it.
I really believe in it! I think what you hear on an album is affected by where you are mentally, spiritually and physically during the recording. Others might think it’s just bullshit. You could have done it anywhere, at home on your computer, in your kitchen… whatever. But I don’t subscribe to it. I think about it all the time, when I listen to our old albums. I’m grateful that we’ve always chosen to do this in an appropriate setting that’s representative, something that feels like a little corner of our stage, or a little corner of hell!
Judging by what we saw of Watain when you first toured here with Soundwave many years ago, your stage is one hell of a place!
(laughs) It was our first time in Australia. They got us on this bill and they got us between In fire and machine headWhere was it Meshuggah? I do not remember [It was Unearth]. But we do what we do on stage. We don’t compromise on that. Festivals like these are great for a band like us. Because you tend to stand out a bit more. Your whole approach is amplified compared to all the other bands, and I think that’s great! A lot of people might feel uncomfortable playing with a bunch of bands you don’t have much in common with or in front of a crowd that’s there to see other bands, but I think that’s is the ultimate way to introduce your band. I think there are a lot of people who remember us from this festival.
It probably wasn’t the first time people saw your band, it was probably the first time they saw a black metal band, and it could have opened a whole Pandora’s box for some people.
To the right! It was really great.
It would be fantastic if you could bring Watain back to Australia once again.
We had very good discussions with our collaborators in Australia. We have some really cool ideas. I always wanted to go put on a show in the Outback, bring generators and play under the sky. I think it’s quite appropriate for a band like Watain.
There is the Blacken Open Air festival which takes place in the middle of Australia. Maybe you could find a way to play there.
Oh yes, I see! Amyl and the sniffers are playing! I love this group.
What’s next for Watain?
The first thing we’re doing is we’ve been invited by Hellfest in France to do a sort of album release show, and it’s going to be streamed. I think that’s the main purpose of the show, it’s just a small show for 300 people. That’s the first thing we do, shake off the rust a bit and try out the new set we’ve been building here for a month. We always build our own stage show. Our only concern is that we’re going to need a fleet to transport it! Everything is made of iron, so it’s a bit of a dilemma we have, but that’s why we have management and production companies, isn’t it?