The Wild Hunt (Century Media)
By Mike Delano
Sweden’s black metal hellions Watain have been on a fearsome tear for the better part of the last decade, releasing back-to-back killer albums, Sworn to the Dark (2007) and Lawless Darkness (2010). This year’s The Wild Hunt finds them expanding their ambition with ballads and other left turns. The nine-minute slow burn of “They Rode On” doesn’t reveal a hidden treasure in Erik Danielsson’s clean vocals (he sounds better screaming), but it’s nonetheless an effectively melancholy ride into the sunset, while the instantly memorable “Outlaw” combines red-eyed aggression with some slinky guitars and Samael-style chanting to create something that should retroactively be used as the soundtrack to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. That same adventurous spirit creeps into all of their songs, even the more straightforward ones. The grand, galloping “The Child Must Die” and the staccato pounding of “All That May Bleed” shows that the blastbeat/rinse-and-repeat black metal template of old is simply too constraining for these wide-eyed wanderers.