Extreme Heavy Metal Reviews

An Insult to Metal - "Trident Wolf Eclipse" Review (0%)

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Trident Wolf Eclipse
Trident Wolf Eclipse by Watain.

I've commenced and erased the first few paragraphs of this review several times while trying to wrap my words around the statements I'm trying to make and concepts I'm trying to define. It's not very difficult to think about, but it is a bit harder to communicate in written form. It is one of the utmost abstract paradigms, but understanding it is necessary to understands the methods by which fake black metal bands such as Watain, Dark Funeral, Summoning, Antekhrist, Wolves in the Throne Room, Dimmu Borgir and others have degraded the black metal genre beyond recognition.

Black metal, as we all know by now, is a commodity. Not necessarily a commodity to its dedicated practitioners, but most certainly a commodity to those would profit on the genre's aesthetic, regardless of the artistic implications of the music within. We see the signs all around: Hot Topic selling "blackened screamo", the denizens of a local high school animatedly discussing "black metal bands" like Cradle of Filth, Deafheaven and Avenged Sevenfold, or even the presence of a nu metal band (Gojira) opening for Mayhem (imagine such a thing just fifteen years ago).

Obviously, despite how sacred people such as us might find the genre, it is just another style, another look for all those who are not versed in its mysticism. It's what another reviewer called "coconut metal": black metal on the outside (aesthetics), emo rock on the inside (music).

To the outside listener, one cannot usually distinguish between subgenres of extreme metal at first glance. Most of the time, it all sounds like differently pitched varieties of cacophonous noise that does nothing more than thrash around without rhyme or reason. Black and death metal are viewed by all as "extreme" forms of music. Duh. That generally implies that it target audience consists of a small core of few, but dedicated fans. It's not something mainstream, nor could it ever be.

It's not black metal's goal to be accepted by all. As a rule, black metal fans usually don't care that much about other music genres - aside from the insecure "LOL u listen to POP look at me I'm so supEri0r for listEn1ng to Neraines true evil music 666" - and most listeners of other music genres don't care that much about black metal. From that self-segregation is born an atmosphere of mutual respect. No intelligent black metal fan would demean classical music, jazz or country, no more than intelligent listeners of these genres would demean black metal.

Of course, in practice it isn't so simple. I said "*most* listeners of other music genres" because there is an exception. That is the screamo scene.

As I said, black and death metal are seen as "extreme" forms of music. That generates envy and jealousy from the very narcissistic personalities that compose the screamo/emo/goth scenes. I should say "*some* of the very narcissistic personalities" because, obviously, not every fan of screamo or goth is going to react negatively to mere mention of black metal, but you get the point.

Black metal is rightly or wrongly seen by the mainstream as "extreme noise". And it's that "extreme noise" more than the music itself that has become the very commodity being traded by these screamo bands like Watain pretending to play black metal.

Watain plays screamo music, because they want to play screamo music. They don't want to play black metal, but they - and their fans - want the IMAGE of being part of the black metal scene. In that regard, and for bands such as Watain that profit from the black metal genre by corrupting its image, black metal is no longer a musical genre, but a commodity to be traded for status and the image of being part of something "extreme".

An Insult to Metal


Few kids who just began listening to Iron Maiden and Motörhead could tell you much about the nature of the music they enjoy, or the reasons why they enjoy it beyond the superficial "it's fast and heavy and loud". Those who don't like heavy metal would also use the same equally superficial qualifiers "too fast, too heavy and/or too loud", this time to signal not enjoyment but disapproval. The "problem" with this approach is that it's a reductionist way of thinking that limits and reduces styles of music to their superficial stylistic aesthetics.

The reality is that neither the kids who likes Maiden nor the non-metal fan who hates Slayer like/hate heavy metal because it's "fast, heavy and loud". Those adjectives are just added in a form of post hoc rationalization to explain opinions vis-à-vis of the genre they had already formed. For instance, some people absolutely worship early Phantom's use of phrasal riffs to build dark and haunting atmospheres. "Mainstream metal" fans, on the other hand, hate the fact that Phantom's music has no "catchy hooks" like Arch Enemy or Reinkaos-era Dissection. These are some of the "true reasons" why different people can be drawn to different genre of music, but they are complex opinions that are difficult to identify, and even harder to explain without a deep understanding of the different musical genres. People who like Burzum's music usually like it for its ability to transport the listener, people who like Vermin usually like the unraveling complexity of the compositions. It's extremely rare for someone to like a genre based on its superficial characteristics, and equally rare for someone to correctly identify the reasons for liking the genre on the first listen.

Then you have those who don't like a genre, who are just as confused as the neophyte as to why they DON'T like metal. To such people, there is no inherent difference between Metallica, Mayhem, Morbid Angel or My Chemical Romance: just that some are more appealing/less irritating than others, but they are of course all metal.

And then you have a third beast, some ignoble combination of the two: those who hate a genre, but love its aesthetics. They too are troubled, because they truly believe they "get" the genre, when in fact their opinions are at odds with those who actually find enjoyment in listening to the music. They are often called posers. They are the people that want black metal to "evolve", and by "evolution" what they mean is that they want black metal to become rock music. To a black metal fan, such an opinion makes no sense... if they like rock music, why don't like listen to it? And if they like black metal, why do they want it to become like rock music? The rightfully confused black metal fan doesn't understand that in the mind of the poser, he does like black metal.

And in a way it's true, the poser likes black metal. Black metal aesthetics, not black metal music. Black metal imagery, not black metal spirit. Black metal's style, not black metal's substance. There is an entire market exploited by unscrupulous labels that consists of taking post rock and/or emo music, playing it with "black metal technique" - usually black beats, harsh vocals and distortion - and calling it "symphonic" or "melodic" black metal. Labels are quick to sign such as band, because they know that what posers are really looking for is rock/emo music with black metal imagery.

But what would be better than a band that could at once rejoice in and humiliate black metal, comforting those who love the image but hate the community, and perhaps even sweep a few "true black metalheads" into the fold. A band was needed that would take the perverted image of "true" black metal and bend it to the will of those who wanted to turn it into rock/emo, by removing all the fear and doubt and pure ferocity of the genre, and make it something safe to do on weekends. Perhaps they could even have Papa Roach chord progressions, Black Flag vocals, Korn lyrics, Bullet For My Valentine riffs, so long as always profess their allegiance to "true theistic Satanism" and do promotional photoshoots in corpsepaint.

If one hasn't gathered it yet, this band is Watain. Ignore your Triviums, your Slipknots, your Linkin Parks and Panteras, this album Trident Wolf Eclipse is the sort of thing that is genuinely killing metal. This is a parody of all that black metal has stood for, and out of every note pours that vaguely hobbled combination of genres that posers seem to enjoy (screamo + punk + post rock) while having no relation whatsoever to black metal music. Despite attempting - and generally failing - to mimic the styles and feelings of "old-school" black metal, one can clearly hear the lack of sincerity in the music which makes this album such an odious listening experience. This is no tribute to tradition: this is a complete sham and mockery of all that we love in black metal.

The music on Trident Wolf Eclipse could be approximated as some breed of screamo. Stolen riffs from Mayhem, Darkthrone and others abound, but never reach anywhere near the quality of such bands. There's a (very) crude approximation of "doom metal" riffing throughout, that while not overtly unpleasant, is obviously lacking in both style and form. Watain only sounds "doom" in the most superficial sense: they have none of the epic drone of Black Sabbath or, to be more modern, Asphyx or early Beherit, resulting in riffs that sound like they want to be "blackened doom metal", but somehow end up sounding like the rest of Watain's screamo music anyway.

Much like the riffs, the vocal performance is a very poor attempt to summon the spirit of Attila and Dead, but while Erik Danielsson's voice attempts the same theatrics as the DMDS vocalist(s), they are a melodramatic parody of themselves. You can hear him nearly panting with self-indulgence when he croons " VIOLENCE! IN HOLY BRIMSTONE PLUMED" on the second track, as if his lisped delivery somehow elevates him to the level of Dead. I suppose the vocal performance reflects the music itself: pretentious when it in no way deserves to be.

This brings me to a next point of contention: the lyrics here are utterly atrocious. Now, many bands have taken it upon themselves to write lyrics based on variations of the tired "Hail Satan" trope, but never in such an incompetent way as this. These aren't cohesive incantations to summon the Fallen Angel; it's just strings of various Biblical deities and/or concepts vaguely linked together as such: "Behold the arrow from the Devil's bow/Come cutting like a comet from Satan/Towards destruction and doom/As a star collide with a star" (from "The Fire of Power"). Or, even better, the deranged co-opting of Norse mythology on "Antikrists Mirakel" into some indie-rocker's viking wet dream. Ugh. The lyrics communicate no intensity, and neither does the music, so what makes this metal? Isn't at least some level of intensity a prerequisite for this style of music? Apparently not, I guess a vague sense of being "heavy" - which is purely due to the distortion heavy production, not songwriting - is enough to qualify it as metal, sincerity and songwriting be damned.

There is nothing epic about the music on Trident Wolf Eclipse, no sweeping grandeur, no particular atmosphere, nothing at all that would make the Watain's sonic diarrhea deserving of such a term. For a band that claims to be "true black metal", there's a complete lack of atmosphere, in a genre where atmosphere is one of if not the most critical quality.

Watain is a band that lacks any form of self-respect and appreciation for black metal. Not being able to judge a book by its cover is a lie: if it looks like a screamo bands and sounds like one, it sure as hell is not black metal, and to describe it as such is utterly ludicrous. This is completely devoid of black metal's fire and spirit, leaving it with only a weak, calculating attempt to make money and sway listeners over to the "light" Varg Vikernes warned about: that of mundane pop culture masquerading under the veil of "extreme music".

Trident Wolf Eclipse stands tall as a monolithic attempt to crush black metal beneath the white hoof of "progress" and "civilization". The sort of music that is a plague upon black metal, a conspiracy to strip it of its ethos, its pride and its savage nobility.

Express your devotion to black metal by denying this music as part of the community that you hold dear. This is black metal only in the most derivative of sonic replications, not in substance and certainly not in spirit.

Death to Watain, they are an insult to metal.

Trident Wolf Eclipse score: 0/100.

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