Watain have been a love them or hate them type of band.
Their move into more melodic and epic territory left a bad taste in the mouth of their long term fans who felt like their band had become more concentrated on creating music to suit their infamous, fiery live shows.
However in the run up to the release of ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’, front man Erik promised an album that was more vicious that their latest offerings, and similar to their much loved second album, ‘Casus Lucifari’.
‘Nuclear Alchemy’, the opening song, is fast paced, relentless, and sonically destructive.
The most obvious improvement from Watain comes from drummer Hakan Jonsson, who’s craft has reached personal best levels of speed and brutality.
I may be mistaken, but this could be the fastest playing he has ever put on record, and could arguably put him on the same level of playing as Mayhem’s Hellhammer, or Satyricon’s Frost.
After Nuclear Alchemy, the listener might be prepared for an album full on this blend of blackened speed metal, but from the 2nd track onwards, ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ starts to show its true colours.
While most of it does go at a blistering pace, songs like ‘Sacred Damnation’ put in subtle twists.
It appears Watain’s exploration of more melodic and epic territory on ‘Lawless Darkness’ and ‘The Wild Hunt’ has given them a more mature look on music, which they now use to give their music extra tension and dramatics.
A surprising element to this album was the role of the acoustic guitar.
Many of the songs including ‘Sacred Damnation’, and ‘The Fire of Power’ use the acoustic guitar to add an extra layer of atmosphere to the record, and help the melody lines cut through the mix.
On paper it might sound like both songs are more black metal ballads similar to ‘They Rode On’, from Watain’s previous offering ‘The Wild Hunt’, but both of these songs are brutal black metal tracks which just use acoustic guitars to create a unique sound, which blends the harsh distortion black metal has embraced, with the clear, defined sound modern music production allows.
The ending to ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ comes in two parts.
The last song with lyrics comes from ‘The Power of Fire/ which is a strong track to help end. The guitars carry the track forward to go from just riffing to making it feel entrancing and dissonant, adding in nice effects which help Erik’s lyrics pop out even more to you.
The last track on the album is ‘Antikrists Mirakel’, an instrumental, droning jam from the instrumentalists of Watain.
On top are what I think are distant, distorted mutterings, which I presume are the same satanic prayers one can see Erik whispering to himself during Watain’s live shows.
While the songs are nice, they don’t have the hugely epic feel that Watain have used to close their previous albums, such as the spine tingling ‘Waters Of Ain’ from ‘Lawless Darkness’.
Lyrically this album offers nothing new for Watain fans.
Erik still uses his vocals to explore their blend of individualism, and cosmic Satanism. The album title is a good indicator that lyrically this album does not create an obvious narrative or meaning, but rather presents imagery and metaphors to the listener to dissect.
Overall fans of Watain’s earlier albums will be pleased with this return to form, but they have not abandoned what they learned from ‘Lawless Darkness’, which is how to create songs with tension, and dramatics.
Watain are one of the strongest young bands on the black metal scene, and this album is a fine addition to their catalogue.
3.9 / 5 – Cormac Jordan ::: 19/01/18