Black metal ambassadors Watain are as contrarian as the genre flag they fly, with their theistic Satanism (actual devil worship, not taking the devil’s name as symbolism) and live blood-dousing rituals putting those qualities at the forefront. But transgressions have their limitations, with vocalist Erik Danielsson espousing the genre’s troubling flirtations with right-wing ideology and Nazism are the line.
“I have always been very clear that I don’t think black metal should be a commentary on anything that is going on politically or socially or hardly even culturally around the world,” Danielsson tells Exclaim! TV’s Aggressive Tendencies. “I think it should stand on its own as a trumpet of the fallen angels, who are completely indifferent to whatever little ideology or idea system that human kind has come up with. Everyone is equal before death.”
The band had to stand behind these beliefs when live guitarist Set Teitan recently stepped aside from the band when photos of him doing a Nazi salute made the rounds on social media, just a month after this interview with Aggressive Tendecies was conducted.
Danielsson doesn’t just have strong opinions on what black metal shouldn’t be — he also has a strong idea of what it should be, and he uses Watain as a vehicle to educate on the genre and dispel any misconceptions that may have birthed out of the ashes of incinerated churches. As the vocalist notes, “It’s the black metal gospel according to Watain.”
That’s been their dogma since the band formed when Danielsson was just 16 years old, with debut LP Rabid Death’s Curse encapsulating it. Press surrounding latest LP Trident Wolf Eclipse suggests the album is something of a continuation of their initial offering’s lyrical themes, though the vocalist insists it is not a retread.
Instead, they found inspiration in taking their eternal “idea of prolonging that state of juvenile hostility and the exploration of violent empowerment of sorts” and applying it two decades after formation.
“We try to think as little as possible when we make new music. For us it’s always been more important that we’re really going with a raw and primal gut feeling, and this time around it just came out very naturally, something that was quite violent and full-on and in your face.”
Though it can be taken at face value, there’s also deeper meaning to Trident Wolf Eclipse — the title references three key symbols that represent the band well, here brought to prominence. Danielsson appreciates fans who skim the surface, though has extra admiration for those who dive in.
“Others choose to dive a little bit deeper and that’s when you encounter, you know, for example, the numerological values that we use a lot and so on, and I guess those questions are more for maybe people who are willing to dig a little bit deeper and find out about the abyss that resides beneath the surface of Watain.”
Explore that abyss the interview in the player below.