Within their now 20 years as a band, Watain have clawed their way into the forefront of black metal, after their previous two albums 2010’s Lawless Darkness thrilled BM loyalists whilst 2013’s The Wild Hunt brought in newer fans with it’s doom influences. Now however it’s back to blistering basics with Wolf Trident Eclipse which proves to be one of the most perfect black metal albums of modern times.
Opening with the thunderous rumble of Nuclear Alchemy and Erik Danielson’s warcry of “Fire At Will!”, it’s clear that Trident Wolf Eclipse does not faff about. In fact this is Watain’s shortest release to date, it’s a 35 minute blast of some of the finest and freshest sounding black metal in the world today. Everything on here sits at the ideal place for a black metal record. The riffs maintain the perfect levels of speed and weight by not simply becoming a wall of noise and keeping their crisp punch, especially on the Ihsahn-esqe opening riff of Ultra (Pandemoniac). Erik Danielson’s haunted screams sound commanding and bloodthirsty and never wander into the ‘too over the top’ realm of black metal vocals. Sacred Damnation has an epic build up at the end helped with some theatrics slipped into the production, but it never gets pushed too far into ‘symphonic metal ‘territory, instead the extra shimmer of symphonics seamlessly slips into the chaos going on around it. Håkan Jonsson’s drums are blinding the whole way through but absolutely tramble you when things pick up on tracks like Towards The Sanctuary. All of this is kept in a crisp and coherent yet still dark and filthy production. To summarise the many positives about this album, everything is beautifully balanced all coming together to create a record which is exactly what black metal should sound like in 2018.
Given the album’s short run time and the lack of lulls in the intencity, Wolf Trident Eclipse does indeed feel very different from its predecessor The Wild Hunt, which was a hour long winding concept album with plodding doom and even folk influences. It was a very different beast entirely, and whilst WTE is nothing but a joy to sit down and listen to, it’s over as soon as it comes and kind of resets Watain to their black metal fury. It drops everything that The Wild Hunt did differently, a lot of which intrigued fans and made them ponder Watain’s next step, having one of the finest black metal bands go back to perfecting their craft isn’t something to sniff at but it does make Trident Wolf Eclipse surprisingly unsurprising. But even if Watain aren’t inventing the wheel here, they’re perfecting what they do have and have created a masterclass in doing so.
Trident Wolf Eclipse is released tomorrow (5th January 2018) on Century Media Records.