Watain are a well known Swedish black metal band with a long and storied history. To fans of the genre, they need no introduction. Founded in 1998 in Sweden, the band have become notorious for their live shows featuring pyrotechnics, satanic rituals, animal carcasses and blood. But at the centre of this has been their music which has earned them fans around the globe. Their signature sSwedish death-tinged black metal sound has evolved over the years, their last album ‘The Wild Hunt’ dividing fans with what was perceived as a more diluted rock and roll sound. The band has always experimented with their sound and this new album, ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’ is no exception. However this album marks a return to form with a strong black metal sound throughout. Band members Erik Danielsson, Hakan Jonsson, and Pelle Forsberg have returned to their blackened death roots, whilst still evolving their sound in new ways. What we have is an album that is undeniably, purely Watain. And it is good.
The album launches straight into the aural assault with Nuclear Alchemy. Hard and fast, the bands Swedish death influences are immediately apparent. The black metal sound that made them famous is also strong with blast beats and their own take on the Norwegian riff. The track is well crafted, varying speed and tempo, but never relenting on the intensity. The vocals are a demonic yet melodic growl that is clear, and keeps pace with the music. A melodic thread is apparent but blends well. Sacred Damnation continues with the ferocity but amps up the melodic undertones. A raw, almost underground sound is balanced with more melodic riffs. The band really balances the two styles and sets the tone for the rest of the album. A very exciting tone indeed. Teufelsreich slows the pace and has a more atmospheric, almost doom influenced feel, but builds to a quick blackened crescendo. The song is more experimental with different sounds but is still fierce and engaging.
Furor Diabolicus has an intro that is atmospheric but building to something. That something is hard and fast, thrashy old school black metal. There is an almost epic feel to this song that is evocative of their live shows. This song has a slow but steady, heavy pace that allows each member to showcase their skills. This track brings to mind influences such as Bathory. The building crescendo at the end keeps the listener intrigued, leading to A Throne Below. This continues the old school assault but is more intricately crafted. Different tempo changes and guitar sounds are layered with some excellent vocal work that really draws the listener in. The lyrical themes of death and blood are highlighted here to great effect.
The next track, Ultra (Pandemonic), is the stand out track of the album and is pure black metal! Unrelenting with a very demonic bent it draws you in and refuses to let go. Hard, fast and intense, this track grabs you by the throat. Towards The Sanctuary keeps up the brutal back assault. This song maintains the old school sound at breakneck speed. Heavy, fast and well composed, this song will have you raising your fist to the sky. This leads in to The Fire Of Power which brings a change of pace. This song slows down to a grim dirge that shows of the great guitar skills held by Watain. There is an almost operatic yet ghoulish feel to this song that is quite powerful.
The final track, Antikrists Mirakel, is a dramatic and dark note to finish on. This track is almost instrumental; a deep, dark and heavy sound punctuated by the occasional vocals that sound as though they are coming from a speaker. Almost inaudible, they provide atmosphere for the driving, demonic soundscape of this track. This song is the most likely to evoke visuals within the listeners imagination. Overall, this album is an exiting return to form for this popular band. There is something for old and new fans alike, nor does it feel as though the artists have compromised their integrity. This is an album that grabs you, that you experience in one sitting. This is an album you truly experience.