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Music / Watain

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Watain's lineup circa 2022. From left to right: Alvaro Lillo, Erik Danielsson, Pelle Forsberg, E. Forcas, H. Death


Yes, I become the serpents chalice
and the power it bestows.
A wisdom that exceeds Death.
Virtues that all laws oppose.
Firmly upheld
amidst the horns aflame.
Man and God,
in fire one and same.
The Serpent's Chalice

Formed in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1998, Watain are a Swedish Black Metal band formed in response to the decline of the feared status of the genre. Musically, they share many similarities to Bathory, Mayhem, and Dissection, the latter of whom they are ideologically connected. From the very genesis of the band, they have been the center of much controversy. Besides accusations of being little more than imitators of the aforementioned groups, Watain have made a name for themselves for highly provocative statements, a very devout theistic Satanist outlook on Black Metal, and bloody ritualistic concerts, in which they baptize the audience with pig's blood in the middle of their songs.

They released a DVD in 2012, entitled Opus Diaboli, which — in addition to recording their 13th anniversary show at Münchenbryggeriet in Stockholm — provides some insight into their symbols and the religious aspects of their music. In 2014, they performed a show in Brooklyn, which has been labeled by tabloid media as the "Brooklyn Bloodbath". Their sixth album, Trident Wolf Eclipse, was announced in late 2016, and was released in early 2018. As of 2021, longtime drummer and founding member Håkan Jonsson has officially left the band and was replaced by E. Forcas of Degial, with his fellow Degial bandmate H. Death joining the band as the rhythm guitarist, and live bassist Alvaro Lillo joining the studio lineup. In 2022, they release their seventh album, The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain.

Studio Discography:

  • Rabid Death's Curse (2000)
  • Casus Luciferi (2002)
  • Sworn To The Dark (2007)
  • Lawless Darkness (2010)
  • The Wild Hunt (2013)
  • Trident Wolf Eclipse (2018)
  • The Agony and Ecstasy of Watain (2022)


  • Animal Motifs: The wolf. This is explained in-depth in Opus Diaboli.
    Erik: The wolf emblem is constituted of two things in this case it is the black sun representing energy and the wolf representing that energy manifested. The wolves — being nighttime predators of the wilderness — are feared but still widely admired in their fierce might. In Swedish, "wolf" is "varg", originating from the Proto-Germanic wargaz, meaning evil-doer, criminal, or outcast. Then there is of course the link to lycanthropy; a left hand path concept of transformation from human to inhuman becoming divine by crushing the form of mud into which we are born and thus becoming the other.
  • Arc Number: Three. There were three studio members, and (usually) three years apart between each album.
  • Ax-Crazy: At least before The Wild Hunt. There have been rumors — some coming from Erik himself — about them killing or trying to kill animals for their live shows, though none of it's been confirmed. They also got into a conflict with Otargos (a band they were touring with) for selling merch for their new album, No God, No Satan. This ended with one of their members being stabbed in his sleep.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Surprisingly averted, for the most part. For a Swedish band, most of their lyrics are in English. However, the title of the song, "Malfeitor" is Portuguese for "evil-doer". Played straight in "Antikrists Mirakel," where the lyrics are in old Swedish.
  • Black Metal: One of the more well-known examples of the genre today.
  • Cain and Abel: Cain himself is the topic of the songs "Reaping Death" and "Hymn To Qayin," the latter being the original spelling of his name.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Par the course for a satanic Black Metal band, Erik refers to evil and all negative attributes only in positive terms. In older interviews and live shows, he'd advocate for the upheaval of society and the destruction of mankind, frequently identifying with GG Allin and praising mass murderers. While he still adheres firmly to his religious beliefs, he seems to have otherwise grown and changed.
    Yes, I am of my father the devil
    And the lusts of my father I will do
  • Cover Version: Their live album, Tonight We Raise Our Cups and Toast in Angels Blood: A Tribute To Bathory consists entirely of Bathory covers. They have also covered the Taiwaz song, "Play with the Devil", "Fuck Off, We Murder" by GG Allin, "Watain" (their namesake) by Von, "Unholy Black Metal" and "Transilvanian Hunger" by Darkthrone, "Fireborn" by Malign, "The Somberlain" by Dissection, and "Chains of Death" by Death SS. "Casus Luciferi" could also be seen as a cover of "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath, albeit with different lyrics.
  • Creepy Circus Music: "Holocaust Dawn" utilizes something that sounds like a mix between this and waltz music. What makes it that much more unnerving is that it descends into a cryptic spoken-word section.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The various descriptions of the gods/beings praised in their lyrics tend to sound like this, being horrific forces beyond form that predate the existence of the universe as we know it; existing in the primordial void while still being fully lacking in distinguishable characteristics beyond those given to the idols associated with them; are associated with death, reality-warping, and cosmic destruction on a grand scale.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "Opus Dei (The Morbid Angel), "Storm of the Antichrist", and "Stellarvore".
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The Wild Hunt opens with "Night Vision", which immediately leads into "De Profundis".
  • Epic Rocking: Several examples, but most notably "Waters Of Ain", which lasts 14 minutes and 32 seconds.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite encouraging acts of violence and terrorism, and possibly even because of their misanthropic mindset, Erik has disavowed NSBM and Nazism as a whole, viewing it as a joke and "the one thing you cannot advocate". He's also described racial ideas as "irrelevant" and "mundane" when looking at the world spiritually.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: A given, considering the genre, although Erik's vocals tend fluctuate between this and a smoother voice.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Downplayed with "Satan's Hunger", followed by "Withershins". "Satan's Hunger" falls into a creepy ambience near the end of the song, and "Withershins" only partly picks up where it left off, as there's a noticeable stop in between songs. Played straight with "Kiss of Death", followed by "Waters of Ain", where "Kiss of Death" ends with the sounds of waves crashing up against a shore, which continues into the beginning of "Waters of Ain", with additional sounds of thunder added.
  • For the Evulz: Erik has been known to advocate this in interviews.
  • A God Am I: "The Serpent's Chalice" and "Waters Of Ain".
  • Gratuitous Greek: In "From the Pulpits of Abomination":
    Iesous Christos Theou Uios Sotertranslation 
  • Gratuitous Latin: The final track on Rabid Death's Curse is entitled "Mortem Sibi Consciscere," meaning "self-inflicted death" in Latin Also Casus Luciferi, meaning "the fall of Lucifer," and the track from that same album, "Opus Dei (The Morbid Angel)," meaning "god's work."
  • Longest Song Goes Last: Frequently. The only exception is The Wild Hunt, with the longest track set in the middle of the album and the second-longest being last. The longest to date is "Waters of Ain", which runs for a grand 14 minutes and 32 seconds.
  • Light Is Not Good: Alluded to in "Storm of the Antichrist" and, of course, "The Light That Burns the Sun." The former depicts Lucifer "radiating light that eats the stars." In the context of their beliefs, however, it refers to black light. No, not that kind.
  • Metal Scream: A Type 3.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: As befits any satanic Black Metal band.
    With passion I have come to loathe
    This globous sty of vain misgrowth
    Where man amass in nauseous mound
    Flesh 'pon death 'pon flesh abound.
  • The Napoleon: Downplayed with Erik, who is short in stature and has a reputation for being arrogant and having a fiery temper, but he tends to be nice to fans.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Given his propensity for advocating evil in interviews, Erik can come off as this, although he's generally friendly otherwise.
  • No Ending: Both "The Serpent's Chalice" and "Waters of Ain". In the former, it ends with a guitar solo that just slowly begins to fade out at the end until it goes silent. The latter is similar, except after the guitar solo, it fades into an eerie, watery ambience that also eventually fades out. Given the context of both those songs, Rule of Symbolism may be in play here. This trope is averted for live performances of those songs, however, for obvious reasons.
  • Older and Wiser: Read any interview with Erik from 2013 or later and compare it to almost any interviews with him before that. He actually says this trope word-for-word in Opus Diaboli.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Erik has shades of this in interviews and in his voiceovers in the Opus Diaboli DVD.
  • Pint-Size Powerhouse: Erik may be short, but that doesn't stop him from having a strong stage presence and not even taking a break to drink water mid-show.
  • Primordial Chaos: What they aspire to return to.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From "Stellarvore":
    God! Of! Death! Ma! Ni! Fest! God! Of! Doom! Move and appear!
  • Refuge in Audacity: Take your pick. Not that their lyrics are exactly peaceful or subtle, either.
  • Religion Rant Song: "From The Pulpits Of Abomination" is a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Christianity for being led astray by Jesus, who is deemed as a false prophet.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: A rather dark and serious example, though not played entirely straight. The gods they praise are just archetypes as opposed to figures of simple worship.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Erik has said this was the case on the title track of Lawless Darkness, which is an instrumental that frequently changes and doesn't have any vocals or lyrics, symbolizing the primordial silence and chaos.
  • Sampling: Occasionally.
  • Scenery Gorn: They often carry the stench of death with them, their altars are adorned with bones, and when they're permitted, they skewer animal heads on the stage. Oh, and they throw pig's blood at the audience.
  • Scenery Porn: Johan Bååth's cinematography for Opus Diaboli is fucking gorgeous, particularly in the interludes, which are shot mostly on a beach.
  • Shout-Out: Several.
    • "They Rode On" is inspired by and takes its name from the Cormac McCarthy novel, Blood Meridian. Several years later, they featured a quote from the same book in the music video for "We Remain".
    • One poster for Opus Diaboli is inspired by a poster for Curse of the Crimson Altar.
    • There's a lyric in "Sleepless Evil" that is paraphrased from the H. P. Lovecraft short story, "The Festival".
    There it walks
    That ought to crawl
    • In another homage to HPL, the preceding instrumental to "Stellarvore" is called "Dead But Dreaming".
    • "Waters of Ain" contains the lyric "Transylvania calls". This is most likely referring to Dead, who killed himself wearing a shirt that said "I Love Transylvania".
    • A couple notable ones to Pete Helmkamp'snote  bands, Angelcorpse and Kerasphorus. "Wolves Curse" has the line, "where shadows fall, beware", which is also featured in the Angelcorpse song, "Wolflust". The final track of The Wild Hunt is called "Holocaust Dawn", which shares part of the name for Kerasphorus' first EP, Cloven Hooves at the Holocaust Dawn.
    • A few to Morbid Angel. The lyric "Where infant entrails still hang high upon the twisted cross" from the title track of Sworn to the Dark references "Unholy Blasphemies", and the track and album's name itself is an obvious one to "Sworn to the Black".
  • The band's name itself is a shout-out to the US Black Metal band, Von, who made a song called "Watain", although it's taken on its own meaning.
  • Singer Namedrop: In "Wolves' Curse". They also do it in their cover of "The Return of Darkness and Evil.
    The wolves' curse
    The dark
    The lupus lunæ
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Whenever serpents are alluded to in their lyrics, they are associated with none other than the Prince of Darkness himself. And then there's that photoshoot in which Erik is holding a snake.
  • Spiritual Successor: Musically and religiously, they follow in the footsteps of Dissection, although they clearly take plenty of inspiration from their forefathers, as well. It helps that Erik was once a live member of Dissection, with Set Teitan (who used to perform live for Watain) being their guitarist.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: "Stellarvore", obviously. Although notably, the stars appear to be being sucked into a black hole.
  • Title Drop: The song "Four Thrones" title drops the name of the album it's on, Lawless Darkness.
  • Villain Song: Pretty much all of them, really. But notably, "Sworn to the Dark", "Malfeitor", "Wolves Curse", and "Outlaw" have some notably villainous lyrics.