What the fuck is that smell?

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Behold a black box. Seemingly harmless, simply a box of stage props? Or one of
the most offensive containers to the olfactory organs currently present
in music? Before it was necessary to drop them at the U.S./Canadian
border, its contents consisted of 13 sheep’s heads and several buckets
of cow’s blood. Post content-dumping and traveling to the East Coast,
even lifting the lid a crack was enough to make you back off and grab
your nose in dismay. No exaggeration.

those who have witnessed Watain play live with said contents, you
understand the odor emanating from them and the stage. It doesn’t
matter where you stand – even in the farthest corner of the room, it
will hit you.

Some describe it as a sickeningly sweet metallic odor,
others just call it “death”, and some just gag when trying. Traveling
with several co-workers to Club Sonar in Baltimore for the show, my
intentions were to photograph the set, and if you are going to be
exposed with the smell anyway you might as well accept it, get up
front, and stop whining. It is what it is. Early in the set singer Erik
Danielsson threw one of the blood buckets over the crowd, and while I
was fortunate enough to only have to clean a bit of it off a jacket
sleeve, camera, hands and face, there were other attendees who were
absolutely soaked. We figured that as soon as we got outside, we would
leave the scent behind.

Our expectations were naive.

Upon getting in
the car and rolling up the windows, as it was late November, we
discovered that we reeked. Not just our clothes, but our hair and even
skin seemed to absorb all it could. The ride was filled with choices –
drive down some notoriously horrid smelling highways with the windows
down, or keep them up and our new scent inside? How does one eat
without gagging when every time you take a bite, you smell old putrid
blood instead of your warm late-night comfort food? I will say that
despite these post-show matters, which are humorous in hindsight, it was
well worth it. When I had seen them on an earlier occasion they were
unable to use the blood. Sometimes they get around it, sometimes they
don’t. They still stunk of being caked in it, but it was on a much
smaller scale.

In the end the blood is only an additive to an already forceful live show.
Seeing Watain is not for the novelty of it, though I suspect that some
do go for this reason. They played long and well, took advantage of the
little room they had to move, and maintained a strong connection with
the audience at all times through sound and interaction.

But I do warn you – stay away from any black boxes bearing their name.