when the metal doesn’t come to you, you have to go to the
metal. That’s what I had to do in order to see Swedish black
metallers WATAIN. Having heard the stories of their live
shows consisting of blood and Satanic theatrics, I had to see
them. This being their second tour of the United States, I was
saddened that they were not coming to my city. I wasn’t
about to miss them this time. So I opted to travel five hours
to the city of Chicago, Illinois for a night of black metal.
the club, which was small and dark, I couldn’t help but
wonder what I was in store for. The first band, Seattle’s
OF BLACK EARTH :: took the stage. Claiming to be
black metal, I was immediately disappointed with what I heard.
It sounded like nothing more than trendy metal core that you see
on Headbangers Ball. I lost interest in this band quickly and
was glad that their set was short.
Next up was
Atlanta, Georgia’s :: WITHERED
:: This band also claimed to be black metal. Not so
according to my ears. They sounded more like stoner metal mixed
with death metal with only a few elements of black metal thrown
in. They were interesting, as they had two vocalists that would
duel back and forth. However tolerable their set was, I was just
happy when it ended so that I could see what I came there for,
which was the mighty Watain.
I made my
way down to the front of the stage. As the stage was set up, it
suddenly turned into an alter. With candle operas, chains and
upside down crosses placed amidst the stage. Even incense was
burned. Monitors were covered in plastic, and one of the stage
hands came up to me and said “You know there is going to
be blood.” I knew there would be blood, but now I wondered
if it was to be a Gwar type massacre. I didn’t move from
my place though. The lights dimmed and ::
:: appeared in all their satanic glory.
Small in structure,
bassist/vocalist Erik Danielsson emitted a monstrous stage presence.
He seemed to ooze evil. As they broke into the song Devil’s
Blood the crowd was in awe. The other members were just as
intense, and I noticed that each member had blood dripping down
their arms, not an abundance, and not like stage blood, but it
seemed rather their own blood Erik’s vocals were extremely
powerful and full of reverb, which sounded wicked. He performed
like a man possessed by the devil literally. With the help of
the red stage lights, his eyes looked as if they were taken over
by another force. In the middle of a song, when not singing on
the mic, I noticed that he would start chanting, it was quite
As they tore into my favorite song Satan’s Hunger
the crowd went into a frenzy, as the ferocity of the song prevailed.
Suddenly mid way through the low end and bass drum mic’s
lost power. This made the song sound incredibly weird. The band
forged on and the sound resumed to the way it should be. I couldn’t
help but notice that WATAIN’s music seemed to conjure
up dark forces. The band was tight as fuck live. With an additional
live guitarist from Chile added to the mix.
As they played the title track to their 2007 album Sworn
To The Dark, the audience seemed to sing along with the
chorus, which gave Erik a look of pleasure. Erik didn’t
speak much to the crowd at all, only once to dedicate the song
Legions Of The Black Light to the late Dissection front
man Jon. During the final song Stellarvore he got the crowd
yelling “Hey!” it seemed to add to the live ritual.
came back for one encore and then hastily made their retreat off
stage with no audience contact what so ever. As a black metal
fan, this show was one of the most intense and evil I have ever
witnessed. It was well worth the five hour drive to Chicago.