Watain, Withered, Book of Black Earth | Reggie's Rock Club | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Watain, Withered, Book of Black Earth Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Oct. 11, 8 p.m. 2008

The last word you’d expect to hear applied to ghoulishly corpsepainted Swedish black metallers is “catchy,” but Watain sculpt their punishing assault into surprisingly melodic shapes—you could almost call their use of hooks and riffs subversive, considering that they’re operating in what’s maybe the most abstract, unmelodic genre to descend from any form of popular music. Of course in this context “catchy” is a relative term, and we’re still talking about a bunch of avowed Satanists, all at least as scowly as anyone else in black metal, whose excellent 2007 album, Sworn to the Dark (Ajna/Southern Lord), includes tracks called “Storm of the Antichrist,” “The Serpent’s Chalice,” and “Legions of the Black Light.” Rather than an isolationist home-overdubbing project like Burzum or, more recently, Xasthur, they’re a shit-tight live act—a trio in the studio, they become a five-piece onstage—with a taste for the theatrical that apparently requires copious amounts of fake blood. Or at least I think it’s fake. —Miles Raymer

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