'There is no Light in the Lawless Darkness!'
In 1998, the Black Metal band Watain was formed in Uppsala, Sweden. Comprised mainly of Erik Danielson (bass), Hakan Jonsson (drums), and Pelle Forsberg (guitar), as well as a few rotating members, Watain has built a large following both in Europe and the United States. They have toured with Dark Funeral, Antaeus, Celtic Frost, and Legion of the Damned.
They have released three studio albums to this point, and their fourth album, ‘Lawless Darkness’, is due to be released in early June 2010.
In a rare phone interview, lead singer Erik Danielsson speaks to Exclusive Magazine’s Ashley Trombley about Watain’s new record, inspiration, and their place in the Black Metal scene.
What artists, if any, have influenced your music? "The main influence for Lawless Darkness I would have to say is Watain. We have probably taken away more and more of our outside influences to focus more directly on the essence of the band. We have found there inspiration that will last for the rest of our time as a band."
Lawless Darkness is your fourth studio album. Does it differ from your past records in any way, and if so, how? "With every artist, progression is inevitable, and I think progression in the case of Watain would mean a sharpening of our sound. When you pick up a knife on the street, you don’t really know how to use it at first. You have to practice in order to be able to stab someone to death with a knife."
"This is something that we have over the years come to learn with our music. We’re getting more secure and more advanced with our skills to deliver what we want, being able to channel what we want to channel as artists. And I think that ‘Lawless Darkness’ is the first album where we feel completely comfortable with our identities as artists."
That’s a very interesting analogy to use. It seems that your lyrics on this record are rather poetic and full of imagery. Do you think that helps the listener understand the point you’re trying to make with the record? "Just the same way they interpret the sound of the music. It’s a part of everything. The artistry of Watain is everything that we do, even interviews. It’s artistic expression to me, which also could be interpreted in different ways."
"The lyrics, for me, are a way to praise what they are first and foremost about, then maybe people can relate to them and see value in them, which I think a lot of people with their heart in the right place can. And if they can, great. But the lyrics aren’t a way for me to communicate with people, they’re a way to communicate with something much greater."
Would you then call that desire to communicate the inspiration for your lyrics and other forms of artistic expression? "Absolutely. The main goal of Watain is the glorification, exploration, and admiration of the Devil. That will always be our main focus. We are the Devil’s artists, we are here to do his work."
Was there any sort of significance to the cover art of the album? "There is deep thought behind everything we do with the band, and obviously the album cover is no exception. We spent a lot of time to get that the way we wanted it to be. We have made similar illustrations for all of our lyrics. It’s all a part of the same expression, and it has to be 100 percent according to what we want to express."
What is the significance behind the name Lawless Darkness? "It means a lot of things, but first and foremost it is the breaking of spiritual and physical laws and codes that is presented to everyone born into this world. Lawless Darkness is the result of the disintegration of the soul into chaos, where no light or laws can be found."
What drew you to this genre of music? "Black Metal was just a conjunction, an alignment of two dark, distinct things finding each other. Off of that alignment, I have been labeled with everything 666 in my heart, it’s the most natural way for me to express what’s inside me."
What do you think Black Metal as a genre has set out to accomplish, and where do you see Watain fitting into that? "Black Metal is extremely fertile ground for the artists of the Devil to work upon. Usually they can produce something explosive and dynamic. Sadly, they are blocked by too many shallow and unfocused people that got involved in it during the years."
"We think that Black Metal as such would be reborn with the coming of Lawless Darkness because we will show people that there’s more to Black Metal than what has already been discovered. This genre has been in a halt for the last 10 years, and it’s time to make it move again, to reap new souls and break new ground."
Would you then consider yourselves to be the “saviors” of Black Metal? "In that sense, but then again, it’s important to remember that Watain is not a band that exists out of a will to save a subculture. That has never been a goal, just a consequence of genuine work. Black Metal as a genre needs this kind of serious outlook on itself by the people who perform it, and without that, it will die."
If you weren’t playing in a Black Metal band, what would you be doing? "Honestly, I would be somewhere far outside of society probably deeply involved in any other way of expressing my love for the fire within my heart, because that fire will exist no matter if I had discovered Black Metal, there’s always the fire. It is the fire of the Devil, and it never goes away."
Let’s briefly talk about Watain’s live stage shows. Live performances can be quite gory. Is all the blood and similar effects for more of a shock value, or are you really attempting to invoke the powers that you so deeply believe in? "To me, there is as much reason for the things on stage than if you light a candle when you want to have a romantic dinner with your partner. They both have the same kind of intent, to create a suitable atmosphere for what you want to achieve. The blood is the link to the power of death, the completely inhuman powers that are meant to be in this universe. Everything on the stage has the same purpose: To indulge in a feeling of chaos, of something not of this world."
Finally, are there any plans for a tour? "Absolutely. I got some very interesting news yesterday from the USA for a tour which is probably to be announced within the week. So you can get news about that in a day or two. It will be in November, that’s all I can say right now, but it’s looking to be a very interesting bill."
Interviewed by: Ashley Trombley
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