Watain have finally released some new material, much to the delight of their fans after five years of waiting. The band are a black metal triumvirate hailing from Uppsala, Sweden. Previously they have released new material every couple of years or sooner, and in recent interviews lead singer Erik Dannielson explained that the previous release The Wild Hunt had to run its course before they could work on a new album. If you know about Watain you know they consider their music to be spiritual and ritualistic in the ‘left hand path’ traditions, namely Theistic Satanism and Devil worship, therefore needing to complete on what was started with the previous album. Despite what you may think about their spiritual connotations, you have to admire their commitment to their beliefs and how they wholeheartedly pour that into their music giving it meaning and realism both in releases and live shows.
On the artwork…
Trident Wolf Eclipse takes artwork back to the early days of black metal— monochrome in colour and simplistic in its design. Showcasing mountains and forest as well as the three symbolic elements of Watain. The Trident being the bands current identifying logo, the Wolf used in some of their initial work and the Eclipse of the sun making it black. Of course, all these symbols have a deeper meaning to the band, with the trident representing the three members, the Trinity of Watain. The Wolf represents raw power and predatory nature. The Eclipse representing unbound darkness, the abyss of infinite power and chaos with the flaming circle representing brotherhood.
On the tracks…
The album starts off with an old school black metal assault, straight out of the gates with a blisteringly fast track. It brings in the melody around midway and then continues the pummelling. The invocation has begun…
Dark, foreboding melody reigns supreme in this track, although a fast track for the most part it continues to bring in the old school black metal song construction, haunting melody and blast beats aplenty.
Now we slow down a touch, but in doing so we have a real dark, decaying atmospheric track, the drumming is superb, showcasing lots of rhythms, the guitars have a real purposeful sound and some solo work tailing off at the end in an open high note. The vocals are classic Watain with Dannielson bringing his black metal growls with a slightly cleaner edge.
This starts of like the first couple of tracks but after a minute or so, slows down into a traditional melodic black metal rhythm with another great drumming track. I find this track menacing in its sound and I like the way it changes up and down tempos throughout. One of my favourites from the album.
‘A Throne Below’
A total blast from the past on this track, going back to 90’s Scandinavian sounds. Unrelenting blast beats, guitars and vocals to match up. This track would be great live. A black metal masterpiece, in my opinion. Again, a favourite of mine from the album.
This one is a strange track, starts of building up with around 20 seconds of a ringing guitar note, after which it launches into a furious blast beat, the guitars sound different, solos and the vocals sound a bit thrashy and it just sounds as though it doesn’t belong on the album we have heard so far. Clearly Watain have their reasons for having such a track on the album but I am not sure what that reason is…
‘Towards the Sanctuary’
Back to black metal— phew! Horrific, pitch black and melodic in its vocals and sounds like a walk in the bleak, cold darkness. Off to the sanctuary of the lords of chaos. At around 3:30 it changes composition into a slower tempo and picks up again at the end.
‘The Fire of Power’
This sounds to me like a black metal ballad (if there was ever such a thing). The pace of the song challenges you to nod along and the vocals are bordering on something which can be sang along to. The guitars and drums are rhythmic and pacey. All that said, it is just as dark as the rest of the album. If you have the standard release of this album, then this is the last track and it sounds like its purpose is to finish off the ‘black magic’ ritual.
If you have the deluxe release, this is a bonus track to the album. At 7:10 minutes long, this has an almost sludgy, doom like and dark tone. Some chanting backing tracks and spoken word elements providing a true finality to the album. If you have been to a live performance from Watain then this track makes all the sense in the world for a final assault.
So, there we have it. In my opinion, this album will grow in strength and become a must have in any black metal collection. Watain have purposefully peered into the abyss and pulled back the elemental essence of what made black metal a great genre to begin with. Mostly gone are the progressive elements brought into their previous release The Wild Hunt and manifested are the pitch black, fear laden, darkness driven sounds so familiar to those who have listened to black metal from the early to mid 90’s. This album invokes, for me, the spirit of bands like Dissection, Bathory, Mayhem, Burzum (in some parts), Darkthrone and Immortal. In doing so, it firmly puts itself in legendary status.
Trident Wolf Eclipse is a must for all black metal fans.