Watain's Erik Danielsson Talks Satanism, Pig's Blood, and Privacy
Few things pique my interest more than authentic, hardcore Satanic metal musicians. But at the same time, there's a part of me that is convinced that most satanic metallers are a bunch of prima donnas.
I do know that it's important to tread lightly when discussing the terms atheistic Satanism and thiestic Satanism with devil-worshipping musicians. If you confuse the two, you'll likely have to deal with some wrath; It's not like I'm getting huffy when someone calls me Catholic and I'm Episcopalian. The basics seem easy enough to distinguish -- atheistic Satanists don't believe in any higher power than oneself, and focus on surviving and indulging in the pleasures of flesh, while theistic Satanists actually believe Satan is "the master."
With Satanic bands, it's rare to get insightful interviews, and even then the musician's answers are vague and aloof. Then again, I'm a nosy journo, so it's instilled in my psyche to ask a bunch of questions and expect straight-up answers. When the chance arose to chat with notoriously arrogant frontman Erik Danielsson of Watain, a band with some of the trust theistic-Satanic metallers around, I jumped at it.
Locally, it's slim pickins when it comes to finding a genuine satanic metal band to chat with. I'm talking blood-guzzling, church-burning, javelina-murdering dudes donning corpse paint and greasy long black hair. But in the depths of places like Norway, Sweden, England, and parts of Eastern Europe, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a satanic metalhead. I wouldn't even call them a dying breed, with such awesome acts as Bathory, Sothis, Varg, Venom, Celtic Frost, or Eternal Decay who are playing satanic black metal in the midst of a Holy War in Israel.
Watain is releasing its fifth album, The Wild Hunt, on August 20, and it's already getting a lot of respect in the metal world -- the single "The Child Must Die" is an ultimate bitch-slap to the face.
So talking to Danielsson would be enlightening, if nothing else. Maybe I would even clarify on a 2010 interview where he was asked, "If you were deaf, what would you be doing instead of music?" and his reply was "The devil always wins in some way." Huh?
Danielsson called me from Sweden, where he was watching the sunrise, to talk about The Wild Hunt, his childhood, Satanic rituals, and what's in Sweden's soil that spawns so many black metal bands.
With the band's fifth full-length album, The Wild Hunt, is there anything you guys did differently that you haven't done on previous albums? It does seem to incorporate more clean vocals.
Well, we did everything different, to be honest. We really made sure that we were taking into consideration that we weren't leaning towards what people were expecting from us. It was a very introspective process creating this album, now more than ever actually. That made it very close to the essence of the band. It was very interesting, making this one.
Stereogum compared Watain's music to Metallica's, and says that The Wild Hunt is like Metallica's Black Album. How do you feel about that?
Wow. That's very big words. I love Metallica. If compared to Metallica I would rather say this album is closer to Master of Puppets in a way. Because to me the Black Album is a very celebrated album in a sense, with unity, like one long song but in a very good way. And the Wild Hunt has more diversity, and that's why I think it would be closer to Master of Puppets. In production it actually seems like we are always talking about Metallica mixed with a complete wild hair, that's what we're going for.
Watain practices theistic Satanism in the truest sense, with summoning rituals and majick. I'm trying to clarify some of these things. Can you let me know what it is about these types of practices that draw you?
Well, many people are curious about that and I understand that. People are fascinating by extreme things or even things that are generally disturbing and backwards. That has always affected anyone in the culture. I understand, I do. But at the same time what I want people to understand is that the religious connections I have, which are very strong religious connections.
All of that is very much based upon our own private practice and our religion as Satanists. It's never been our intent to elaborate on that to a wide audience. Or to let people in on that. What we let people in on is the outcome of the practices. It's the practices themselves.
What we let people take part of is what we want them to understand, and the consequences . . . Our life of adversity. And to let people in more to show the servantry in which we work. That would be to -- well, it's hard to say. But it was never our intent to aim to let people know about our private practices. We have never been able to or willing to talk to people about our practices.