Watain: "We're going to war for the Devil"
It’s not a threat. It’s a promise. As Watain unleash their most ferocious album in a decade, Erik Danielsson unveils their new mission statement
Watain’s rabid extremity serves as a gateway to a dark path many fear to tread, a journey full of the promise of the unknown. Legions of devout fans have followed, drawn to a band who seem more like a gang, and dangerous in a way most music just isn’t anymore. To dismiss the fire and blood of their renowned live show as mere theatrics would be folly – their devil worship is still as deadly serious as ever.
“For me, the Devil has never been evil as such; the devil has always represented a force,” explains articulate frontman Erik Danielsson. “It’s something that empowers you, makes your eyes gleam and the hair on your arms stand up and fucking wants you to go to war,” he says passionately. “It’s an uplifting thing.”
There’s a sense of accomplishment about the man, in London to promote savage forthcoming sixth record Trident Wolf Eclipse. He looks out of place in his humdrum hotel room – slight of frame and wirily muscular, dressed as ever in road-worn leathers, both flesh and attire adorned with the nefarious occult symbolism of his beloved band. Erik and his bandmates – drummer Håkan Jonsson and guitarist Pelle Forsberg – are Watain, born from the hotbed of extremity that is their hometown of Uppsala, a small, religious town where a closely knit metal community has given rise to some of the underground’s most inspiring artists in recent years.
It’s been four and a half years since they released The Wild Hunt, an ambitious opus that saw them broaden their musical horizons, as they reflected upon their 15-year existence. They’ve never left it so long between records.
“We took a long time to write and record The Wild Hunt, longer than usual, so it was natural that it would also take a longer time to let it pass,” states Erik, “which isn’t that strange considering what kind of an album it is; even the title can be said to refer to our journey. It dealt with everything between utter triumph and utter loss, which is why it became very broad in its expression.”
Once the band had got the record out of their system with prolonged touring, it was time to focus their wolf-like glare on the next stage, rejuvenated, and hungry.
“The Wild Hunt was a heavy motherfucker in many ways,” Erik reflects. “The minute we stepped into the rehearsal room we realised Trident Wolf Eclipse was going to be a hard fucking album – very straight to the point, very direct.”