PICK OF THE WEEK: Watain’s black madness rushes back to surface on violent ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’

If a band is around long enough and is fortunate to release more than a couple albums, eventually that one thing is going to come that divides its listeners and sows doubt among those who worshipped blindly at the altar before. For Watain, that album was “The Wild Hunt.”

The band’s fourth album was released in 2013, and it wasn’t exactly a collection that those who loved “Casus Luciferi” and “Sworn to the Dark” could have imagined this band creating. But let’s not dwell on that record and instead tackle the band’s new fifth album “Trident Wolf Eclipse,” a collection that should put a smile on anyone’s face who wanted more of what Watain last accomplished on a record such as 2010’s “Lawless Darkness” or the aforementioned efforts. This is a savage, massive album, one that grabs you by the throat from moment one and refuses to let go. This is a total return to form for the band—the core members are vocalist/bassist Erik Danielsson, guitarist Pelle Forsberg, and drummer Hakan Jonsson, though their Facebook attributes additional guitars to S and bass work to A—as it’s a thunderous, bloodthirsty record that fans the flames of black metal heathenism all over again. On this record, the sinister riffs are tearing at your flesh anew, the vocals are destructive and deadly, and the slowest thing you’ll hear is a mid-tempo track that still smashes your knuckles.

Opener and first single “Nuclear Alchemy” is the ideal three-minute start, a thunderous track that crushes the earth beneath it and reintroduces the world to the band’s madness. It’s a perfect way to start the record and should excite the fuck out of anyone who hears it. “Sacred Damnation” has riffs rolling through hell, as fierce growls and rhythmic pounding upend your senses, and guitars spit black melodies. The track ramps up harder toward its back end, while the pace splatters, and the band catches you in the gears of its thrashy assault. “Teufelsreich” dumps pure terror into the air with atmospheric riffs, and then we’re into dogged savagery that keeps upping the ante and landing major punches. Danielsson’s raspy growls open wounds, as he leads a strong chorus that will stick in your head, and humid guitars follow him and ring out to the end. “Furor Diabolicus” has raw, yet fluid guitars, as the band unleashes a stampeding pace, with a chorus that destroys. “Wrath of the gods!” Danielsson wails, with the band bringing things to a traumatic end. “A Throne Below” is sweltering, with sinister melodies and a melodic attack that storms down. The guitars twist as Danielsson unleashes his maniacal growls, and the song comes to a mesmerizing end.

“Ultra (Pandemoniac)” has guitars burning and burly riffs doing damage, while the band goes a thrashy path again, and Eriksson growls monstrously. There’s a nice classic metal feel to the guitar work later, bringing on the fires of black metal nostalgia. Yet later, they moan underneath the carnage, as wild cackles send the track into hell. “Towards the Sanctuary” is blinding as hell, as a damaging tempo and infectious vocals get under your skin. The drums pulverize, while the riffs rain down chaos, and this track arguably is the second best on here. “The Fire of Power” is a middle-paced puncher that has Danielsson howling of actions “to illuminate the darkness of the mind.” The band runs in place here a bit at times, as this is the only track where the true Watain power isn’t clear. But it’s not bad and does lead toward the bizarre finish “Antikrists Mirakel.” This is primarily an instrumental cut, and a mind-altering one at that, as thorny riffs and eerie calls combine to send chills. Some of the melodies are mournful, while others are stormy, and it all builds to a finale that manages to put an elegant sheen on apocalypse, grinding the track into eternal mystery.

Watain’s chest-crushing black metal sounds savage and purely evil again, and “Trident Wolf Eclipse” is a record that will reassure those misled by “The Wild Hunt” that the true fires are burning again. I don’t fault Watain for their last record at all. I’d rather a band give me a disappointing record they mean than a heavy one they don’t. Luckily, you can tell them absolutely mean every ounce of “Trident,” and it’s the best thing they’ve offered up in the past eight years.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.templeofwatain.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.centurymedia.com/