Trident Wolf Eclipse

Written by: AP on 28/01/2018 16:52:55

With atmospheric and post-black metal enjoying their golden era, it is sometimes easy to forget the militant origins of the genre. And while it is generally accepted that the landmark releases in the genre’s original style are consigned to the annals of music history and may never meet their modern equal, the likes of Watain continue to remind us that the old fires are burning yet, their fury unallayed. The Grammy award-winning Swedish titans were last seen turning their blasphemies into popular fare on 2013’s “The Wild Hunt”, and whether it was a derision toward the willingness of the mainstream suddenly to embrace the band or something else, with this latest onslaught, “Trident Wolf Eclipse”, they now make a decisive u-turn toward the chaos and darkness that once made music of this nature so feared and revered.

There is certainly plenty of both on offer in the ferocious opening track, “Nuclear Alchemy”, which, after quite literally detonating, lambasts the listener with an avalanche of blastbeats and dissonant riffs in true black metal style. Throw Erik Danielsson’s visceral growls and a crazed, Slayer-school guitar solo by Pelle Forsberg into the pyre as well, and the track becomes absolutely ferocious — but not to an extent that one cannot find head or tail in its composition. Extremity is a key component of Watain’s expression, yet the trio always seems to find ways to ensure that their music is laden with hooks, whether in the shape of pure shock value or an infectious melody. The latter is found in abundance in the following “Sacred Damnation” and “Teufelsreich”, both of which adopt a somewhat less belligerent style than the opener and invite atmosphere to the fore. Eruptions of tremolo guitar shoot out of their ambient cores like pillars of obsidian to inspire in the listener visions of the apocalypse, as Danielsson switches to a sermonic style of vocalisation and tremendous crescendos are rolled in to finish off the tracks on an epic note. If “Nuclear Alchemy” revels in the bulldozing ‘panzer’ style for which Watain’s countrymen in Marduk are renowned, then these two cuts are more in the line of the Norwegian artist Taake’s deeply unsettling style, and as such, it is quite tempting to suggest that with “Trident Wolf Eclipse”, Watain might unwittingly have built a bridge between the two warring schools of thought that continue to exist in black metal today.

Another interesting connection that seems to form through the record is to the stateside branch of the genre. North American black metal artists are often assigned the prefix ‘atmospheric’, as if they had pioneered that aspect of the genre. But what the term actually refers to is the penchant of those bands for conjuring extremely effective, sometimes transcendental melodies — the kind that replay in the listener’s mind long after and which he or she hums out loud at unexpected times. Watain, too, masters this trade, as underlined by the cascading “Throne Below” and “Towards the Sanctuary”, but rather than evoking images of desolate, mossy woods, the Swedes inspire fantasies of hell itself and then bring those to life in their concerts. Indeed, skulls and bones, rotted flesh, pig’s blood and plumes of fire are a staple of Watain’s live performances, and when one listens to an album such as “Trident Wolf Eclipse”, it is easy to understand why — Watain’s music bristles with atmosphere, and perhaps more so than ever before.

The record thus provides a sweeping listening experience made even more lucrative by the presence of catchy elements, and while it is by no means a full-blown reversal to the band’s classic, early ‘00s era, it does come across as a more blunt and voracious effort than either “The Wild Hunt” or 2010’s “Lawless Darkness”. As such, it strikes a golden balance between satisfying the faithful disciples who have been hungering for Watain to return to the all-out ferocity that originally drew them into the band’s allure, and the more recent arrivals to the fanbase who were wooed by the accessibility of the two aforementioned albums. This is quite rare within black metal; to come across as pure and unadulterated while also catering to pop sensibilities and still losing none of the integrity required from representatives of the genre by its connoisseurs.


Download: Nuclear Alchemy, Sacred Damnation, A Throne Below, Towards the Sanctuary
For the fans of: Marduk, Mayhem, Taake, Valkyrja
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.01.2018
Century Media Records

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