Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse Review

Band: Watain
Album: Trident Wolf Eclipse
Label: Century Media Records
Genre: Black Metal
Country: Sweden
Release Date: 5th January, 2018

As modern day metal fans we are accustomed to receiving everything at the click of a button. You can now instantly download and stream music and in many cases you can get the band merchandise and tickets that you so desire as quickly as the next working day. As a result of this we have become increasingly impatient when it comes to bands releasing new material (myself included) which normally isn’t a problem when bands stick to the unwritten rule of releasing an album once every two years. However, certain bands (Machine Head, Metallica, Slayer and Meshuggah to name a few) have never been particularly good at sticking to this rule and leave their fans clawing at the walls, begging for musical sustenance. One band that fall in to the aforementioned category is Watain. Since their inception they have created some of the most memorable and sublime Black Metal albums of recent times and if having to wait that little while longer is the price to pay… so be it.

Watain’s previous release ‘The Wild Hunt’ is now four and half years old. The band have since toured the world more than once and have earned themselves even more followers to add to their ever increasing fan base along the way before locking themselves away in the studio to slave over their latest offering ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’. The interesting question here will be whether or not the band has chosen to continue expanding their sound in to something more sonically adventurous or if they have decided to hone the skills that they have learnt on ‘The Wild Hunt’.
The album opens with the track ‘Nuclear Alchemy’ and it becomes apparent very quickly that Watain are here to decimate. From the very beginning we are subjected to an onslaught of blast beats from Håkan Jonsson and tremolo riffing from Pelle Forsberg showing that Watain are quite happy to reintroduce themselves in their original form as a solely Black Metal band. The vocals from Erik Danielsson sound as hellish as ever, with his instantly recognisable gravel throat and insanely powerful delivery being ever present from the outset. The water-tight rhythmic sections of the track shift tempo and ferocity seamlessly and give the kind of stability that is all so important when it comes to creating the kind of atmospheric opus that Watain unleash in their live performances.
The next track of note has to be ‘Teufelsreich’ which shifts the dynamic of the album from it’s outset with the pace being noticeably slower than the previous two songs. The vocals from Danielsson are delivered in an almost hushed tone at the start before gradually climbing to his stock harsh growls as the song grows into a more typical Black Metal style. The guitar parts throughout this track add a degree of melody over the top of this ferocious soundscape utilizing well-written lead parts and a number of interesting chord progressions that give the proceedings a real sense of grandeur. It is truly remarkable that a simple change in the speed of a song can add so much to the way in which the album is perceived. Rather than feeling like the same track is being played on a loop for the duration this breaks up the record well and keeps the listener intrigued and anticipating what is to come on later tracks.
‘A Throne Below’ is an entirely different beast. The pace has been turned back up to eleven as we are treated to a fully-blown Black Metal assault on the senses. Jonsson plays like a man possessed behind his drum kit here as the double bass pedals and blast beats beat the listener around the head from the very begging of the track as the high velocity riffing of Forsberg thrashes away over the top and the ever present bass guitar rumbling away underneath. The vocal lines on this track are pure Black Metal with Danielsson snarling and barking his lyrics with the kind of intensity that makes you feel like he is ready to climb through the speakers and give you a real hiding. The addition of orchestral instruments provides a real layer to the track and aids to creation of the grand, epic sound that Watain are aiming for here on ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ in the same way that it did for Dimmu Borgir’s 2007 opus ‘In Sorte Diaboli’ .

The next point I would like to make is one that I feel that I have made time and time again. The production on a Black Metal album is the key to unlocking its true potential .I tend to ignore the purists who seem to think that anything other than an album that sounds like it was played on a tin drum set and recorded through an dusty, old eight track tape recorder is not ‘true kvlt’. With music this visceral and primal in its delivery a lot can be lost in muddy, low budget production and that is why in this humble writers eyes (or ears as the case may be) it is better to have a cleaner and more attentive recording and mixing process in order to showcase all of the little layers that Watain have worked so hard to combine together to create this album. Fortunately, Watain appear to share the same opinion and the production on ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ is flawless. All of the orchestral components, drums, guitar parts and vocals get mixed to perfection and combine to create an album that manages to avoid the monotonous black hole that so many Black Metal bands find themselves hurtling in to at this stage of their career.
A devilishly exciting beginning to a whole new year of metal music. Welcome back boys.

Rating: 9/10

1. Nuclear Alchemy
2. Sacred Damnation
3. Teufelsreich
4. Furor Diabolicus
5. A Throne Below
6. Ultra (Pandemoniac)
7. Towards The Sanctuary
8. The Fire Of Power

Total Playing Time: 34:40

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