Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse (2018) REVIEW

After a couple of experimental, far-reaching albums Watain have made the decision to dial their sound and song-writing back about ten years and rework the shapeless mess of ‘Sworn to the Dark’ into a fully functioning semi-melodic black metal album. ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ is easily the most accessible and polished release from Watain to date. It perfects the attack of late 90’s second wave Norwegian black metal and slicks the whole thing over with an oily ocean of Swedish black metal darkly melodic precision. I’ve already seen careless writers praise the album as “black metal’s ‘Reign in Blood’…” and just reading such inane twat-flapping gave me heartburn. That isn’t to say this isn’t intense and aggressive and yes it absolutely has that rapid-fire pacing without a moment of dawdling.

A more precise comparison might be that ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ goes a step between the orthodoxy of bands like Nightbringer and reaches back to resurrect the infernal spirit of David Parland, a musician who played an integral role in early albums by Necrophobic and Dark Funeral. He had discovered a golden ratio for melodicism, brutality, and essentially created this same type of buzz-worthy black metal influenced music in doing so.  The features here from H. Death (Degial) and Attila (Mayhem) speak both to the friends that Watain keep and the influences that permeate the album here. Much like Degial’s hyper-focused uber-Satanic death/black Watain carries a determination throughout the album that is both thrilling and taxing across repeated listens.  In fact the track where both musicians guest “Ultra (Pandemonic)” is a ripping Necrophobic style hissing avowal to Satan that highlights the album and picks things up after the previous song threatens to dull the edge of the first four tracks.

I can’t help but feel like many fans were bewildered that Watain never became their next Dissection or Dark Funeral, and instead went off into odd pastures with ‘Lawless Darkness’ and the ill-concieved ‘The Wild Hunt’. This creates a sort of hipster conflict though, because on one hand it’d be wonderful if the band could have made good on their ambitions instead of turning back the clock and doubling down on their accessible occultist black metal aesthetics. On the other hand, those albums were garbage and this might be somewhat rote, but it is still the most ballsy and riff-forward that Watain has ever been. I would rather reward all of the things Watain gets right on this record than needle their shortcomings and ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ is ultimately an excellent black metal album from a band that had barely gotten there before they fell hard.

Note: The bonus digipak track “Antikrists Mirakel” is a worthless 7+ minutes and is not worth the extra cost. 

watain-2018

Artist Watain
Type Album
Released January 5, 2018
Listen on Spotify Follow Watain on Facebook
Genres
Black Metal, Melodic Black Metal

Gushing from the open wounds of beasts. 3.75/5.0

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