The infamous Swedish black metal horde known as Watain have just unleashed their latest offering of chaos to the clawing and salivating masses. The band’s highly-anticipated, fourth full-length, Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist Records) is said to be “Black Metal Reborn” and this reviewer is willing to bet the record could very well be a top contender for such a title at this point in the year. It is may also be safe to say that anyone up for the challenge, may very well have a brutal battle on their hands with this record.

Unlike some so-called black metal bands that rely almost completely on the visual aspect of the genre while basically abandoning what black metal was meant to be, Watain’s approach is largely expressed through an in-your-face, cross-crushing, no-bullshit kind of statement that pulls no punches in making the point perfectly clear. Aside from having four full-length records under their belts, Watain are also known for their intense and controversial live performances, which usually involve gallons of blood and an unforgiving dose of Watain’s satanic vision of existence. It is this relentlessly harsh quality that is conveyed with aggression in their recordings, and Lawless Darkness is definitely no exception to that rule.

The record manifests itself as a sort of two-headed monstrosity, as both flowing melodies and blasts of stripped-to-the-bone black metal coexist in a display of blissful, haunting lunacy with E. Danielsson‘s raspy death-howls consistent from start to finish. As with Watain’s Sworn to the Dark record, certain tracks here, such as “Malfeitor” and “Hymn to Qayin” launch a sort of Dissection-inspired attack, while numbers like “Reaping Death” and “Four Thrones” raise the blood-soaked banner of black metal high in a more traditional sense. The primal, full-throttle Bathory-esque flavor of “Total Funeral” is easily a morbidly grand highlight of the record, from where this reviewer is standing. Meanwhile, the epic closing track “Waters of Ain” draws Lawless Darkness to a close with style, in the form of some seriously haunting melodies and solos.

If Lawless Darkness actually does end up being the rebirth of black metal, then it will do so in a justified manner. With this record, E. Danielsson and Watain have definitely created a blasphemous juggernaut that is not to be taken lightly. The band are clearly staking their claim to more territory in the battle for the black metal crown. Which is, coincidentally, the very reason this reviewer recommends that everyone reading this should immediately do themselves a huge favor…and surrender themselves to the grim madness that is Watain’s Lawless Darkness!