Watain live in Athens 2019

Watain, the successors to the throne of Dissection for many, returned after almost half a dozen years to Greece, for a performance and despite being a little slow to embrace the fact, in my stormy state of life and mind, I decided to embrace their Luciferean call to arms, by swearing allegiance to the dark…
Watain Athens Shows 2019 poster
For some bizarre reason I was under the impression of a starting time at 20.30 (so I missed the beginning of Thy Darkened Shade’s set, which was deeply disappointing as they were the one out of two Greek openers that were opening and the one that seemed more compatible to Watain’s style. Their truly black metal aesthetic, both in terms of image, as well as in sound was callously chilling. Sounding like they have achieved a perfect mix between the Norweigian and early Greek schools, they sounded both callous, but also brutal and deathly, heck even marginally melodic in places, with really cool ideas that made them stand apart in a rather monotonous genre. While I wasn’t aware of them, in all honesty, I was pretty impressed, especially with their final one two of “Revival Through Arcane Skins” and “Daemon Phosphorus” that sounded suitably diabolical.
 
Dead Congregation, were up next, shrouded in darkness and playing the same sort of brutal death metal as Immolation, Incantation and the like. They seemed to have issues with the sound, with their guitar being barely audible initially, but after the first few songs that was resolved. At that time however a horrible stench, like a mix between rotting flesh and athlete’s foot, seemed to permeate through the entire front section, making me gag and seek refuge upstairs, I would imagine it to be something that had to do with the ventilation, since no single thing or person could emanate that stench all by themselves… some might find it cute, but smelling that ghastly stench was anything but. The band went on and offered a selection of their back catalogue, not once giving up their strong grip on the crowd that included numerous of their “own” dedicated fans. “Wind’s Bane”, “Morbid Paroxysm” and the one two of “Only Ashes Remain”, as well as “Promulgation Of The Fall", from their latest album were brutal highlights, but when they sunk their “Teeth Into Red”, I thought that hell had manifested itself on earth.
 
After a considerable amount of time to finalize their preps, Watain came on the stage. I must admit that their elaborate stage setup complete with altars, trident’s banners spelling out the band’s name and two huge iron inverted crosses in front was really “commanding” and set the scene for what was to follow and sure enough as soon as the band walked on stage with torches and lit the crosses on fire, all the rage of hell was unleashed, upon us in the form of “Storm of the Antichrist”, which was very much true to its name. The quintet was out for blood and while they remained professional to the utmost point, they did so without sacrificing their raw intensity and their trvely hellish, aesthetic.
 
Watain is one of those bands that you can’t call posers, because they seem to embody their music and after watching them for the third time, I am more than convinced that they’re one of the most worthy extreme bands out there.
 
As the band is touring in support of their latest album, “Nuclear Alchemy” was aired, with the crowd really getting into “it”. By that point, the horrible stench inside the club had subsided in strength, but could now be detected even far away from the stage all the way to the back. Following some walking around to find a non-so smelly patch, “The Child Must Die” came gripping us by the neck with its wicked blackness. Continuing their journey to the past with “Puzzles Ov Flesh” and “Angelrape” was next and boy was it dark… but nice! Forward to the present and “Furor Diabolicus” did justice to its name – although the sound was suffering a bit from where I was, a thing that moving around some more, did seem to solve to a degree. So, “Sacred Damnation” that followed sounded much better. “Underneath The Cenotauph” and “Malfeitor” got quite the crowd response and how couldn’t they with their melodic yet commanding presence. “Towards the Sanctuary” and “On Horns Impaled” may come from completely different eras but both are chaotic and tip heavily towards chaos and an aesthetic that’s blackened. Hence they got the crowd going again, but scratching a completely different itch this time. For the end the band had selected a triumvirate of songs from “Sworn to the Dark”, starting with the title track and howling to the wolf moon with “Stellarvore” before downing “The Serpent’s Chalice”. It cannot be denied that Watain has conquered their rightful place among the elite of extreme metal, with nothing more than honest work and dedication to their craft.
 
Unfortunately there, weren’t any encore songs (the band usually does a Bathory cover and plays another song) for unbeknownst reasons, but still the entire affair was most satisfactory. Εric Danielsson, was left on stage with a Greek flag bearing the trident and ceremonially ended the live on the altar that was in front of the drum riser.
 
It’s been a few years since I’ve last seen the band live (3rd time overall) and I’ve always considered them to be true to their craft and dedicated to what they do. Athens was no exception, as the band delivered. An evening well spent, for all those that have Sworn an oath to the Dark!