Watain
Sworn to the Dark

So in my recent discovering of all things black metal, one band that kept coming up as a band I had to hear was Sweden’s Watain. Lo and behold, Sworn to the Dark shows up in my mailbox and I play it expecting a nasty, evil and malevolent tide of blackened blasphemy. Instead what I got was a rather tame, if excellent record of tight, well produced, often mid tempo, ‘nice’ melodic black metal more in line with Naglfar, Dissection and later Immortal.

Of course sounding like the above bands, isn’t a bad thing, but I’d hardly call Watain and elite act. They lack the tangible malevolence of Marduk and sheer intensity of Dark Funeral, and don’t quite have the grasp of melody that Naglfar has. Still, they are polished, razor sharp and resonate a little malice in their delivery, but also rather restrained and surprisingly accessible. Of course that makes them black metal I can appreciate as I’m only just delving into the likes of Funeral Mist, Katharsis and Ondskapt.

With longer than usual songs, Sworn to the Dark isn’t an immediate listen as it’s sort of like a freight train that takes a while to get going but deliberate, churning tracks like opener “Legions of the Black Light”, “The Light that Burns The Sun” and “The Serpent’s Chalice” mix with more urgent, yet still calculated numbers like “Satan’s Hunger”, “Storm of the Antichrist”, “Underneath the Cenotaph”, the blistering “Darkness And Death” (having a pace and delivery I was expecting) and the title track. There are no real standouts as such, rather each track is a sharp, decisive, high quality strike.

A couple of interludes creep into the album (”Withershins”, “Dead But Dreaming”), but don’t add much, and ultimately I think those expecting the grim specter of Casus Luciferi part two, might be a bit disappointed. However, in its own right, Sworn to the Dark is a quality, polished black metal album that should appeal to more patient black metal fans.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
June 25th, 2007

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