The career of Sweden's Watain took a major step forward with the release of 2003's sophomore album, Casus Luciferi, which crystallized the sound that would elevate the band -- in tandem with reliably devastating concert rituals -- to the top of the global black metal bone pile. In a sense, the band "owned up" to its nationality with this release, exchanging the Norwegian-influences of prior efforts with a no less devilish blueprint delineated years earlier by seminal Swedish forefathers like Dissection, Marduk, and Dark Funeral. To put it another way, cleanly produced onslaughts such as "Black Salvation," "Opus Dei (The Morbid Angel)," and "The Golden Horns of Darash" ruthlessly decapitate their victims with the swift efficiency of a guillotine, rather than requiring a few swipes of a rusty scythe; the tools of the trade may be different, cleaner, and more immediate, just like the songs themselves, but the end result is still deadly. And perhaps most deadly of all is the album's opening storm-blast, "Devil's Blood" (with the awesome "From the Pulpits of Abomination" a close second), which establishes the tone for everything that follows by assaulting the senses with turbulent blastbeats, roaring bass (yes, even the bass parts here are audible!), buzzsaw guitar riffs, and spiraling tremolo melodies, topped with shockingly graphic yet evocative lyrics that transcend evil clichés again and again -- all the more reason for their relatively clear enunciation by Erik Danielsson. Another cut deserving special praise for proving that Watain can keep listeners on their toes even at half the usual speed and intensity is the comparatively meditative "I Am the Earth," but one should not overlook the epic title track's thunder bolt-announced Armageddon, either...heck, one would be foolish to overlook any track on Casus Luciferi, such is the consistent quality maintained throughout this grand musical grimoire, brimming with power, majesty, and glorious ruin in the name of black metal, and paying testament to Watain's well-deserved ascension following its unveiling.
AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia