Sweden’s most famous Black Metal trio is back with a new album. Following their rather lackluster release The Wild Hunt, which had its moments but ultimately could not completely deliver on what they seemingly tried to achieve, Trident Wolf Eclipse might just be two thirds of a turnaround for Watain.

I’m not someone to expect bands to repeat themselves over and over. Hell, I prefer post-2000 Satyricon to their medieval take on early 90s Norwegian Black Metal and if Watain still sounded like they did on Casus Luciferi, I’d be bored - to death. I wanted a Watain album that wasn’t The Wild Hunt their first single Nuclear Alchemy, which also serves as the album’s opener, I wasn’t confident that they had pulled it off. It’s the weakest song on the album and it’s dull and boring. It’s another take on The Child Must Die from the Wild Hunt, nothing more. The recording quickly gets stronger as soon as it is over, so that’s not a deal breaker. It’s just a song that one might have skipped if the album wasn’t way too short to begin with.

Something sounds off on this album and it’s neither the songwriting, the riffing nor the drumming. It’s the ties that bind them - and they’re loose. It doesn’t feel tight. It’s not as gripping as Sworn To The Dark or a Lawless Darkness once were. The guitar work is marvellous, the drumming is precise and full of drive. Eric’s vocals are decent, but they are too tamed most of the time. They lack depth and they leave the impression of having been recorded in one take which was then thrown into the mix, not giving the band any space to play with the vocals in the final mix. Vocal effects and sudden outbursts of guttural violence were once a speciality of Watain and that’s not happening a lot on Trident Wolf Eclipse. That’s my main gripe with this album: Its almost complete lack of surprises.

I’m also not sold on the mixing, because Watain isn’t doing the album a favor by almost drowning the rhythm guitar in a sea of everything else that is happening on this record. If I hadn’t checked, I wouldn’t have assumed the producer to still be Necromorbus Studio’s Tore Stjerna, considering that he was in charge of producing every album they have ever released, without this noticeable weaknesses in the final mastering process. The dynamic range on this album is completely and utterly incredible though - this is the best Watain have ever sounded, based purely on the quality of the production itself.

Watain still know how to perform furious and intense Black Metal, though. An outstanding track is Furor Diabolicus, as it somehow sounds a lot more punchy, energetic and dynamic than the previous songs. A Throne Below delivers as well. Ultra (Pandemoniac) is Watain at their absolute best: It is wild, energetic and groovy. It is pure, raw frenzy and rivals the catchiness of their Sworn To The Dark-days. These songs work in perfect unity and that’s something Watain just knows how to do. It is disturbing that Watain missed this chance to fully redeem themselves from their last release by not having more of their songs work together this well. The Fire Of Power has a refrain that’s not easy to forget, but the crown of this release lies right in the middle of this 9-piece recording.

Knowing that Watain excel at creating epic songs ranging between the 10 to 15 minutes mark, it’s rather confusing that they left out a majestic finale. The instrumental Antikrists Mirakel fails to create the necessary vibe to stand on its own.

All things considered, Trident Wolf Eclipse could have been much worse and instead turned out to be a fitting addition to their discography. It just does not exhaust the full potential of an experienced formation like Watain, that managed to find a rather unique sound in an overcrowded genre.

The pack of wolves no longer howls as loud as it used to do, but at least it’s not silent either.