Grammy-award wining artist Watain has shamelessly assumed the mantle of “most embarrassing band masquerading as black metal” previously shared by Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. Where the downfall of those two bands was an overdose of gothic and groove influences, Watain has managed to outdo both in both parody and bastardization of black metal with their previous album’s venture into country musical territory. With a career built on celebrity guest spots from more capable underground metal musicians, necrophiliac 1st era Bathory Worship mixed with a second rate attempt to mimic Dissection’s concluding album, and a ridiculously cartoonist theatrical performance worthy of a Broadway musical, Watain’s legacy has been secured to forever be “the band that bent over farthest to inherit the phallus of commercialization the deepest” and has effectively decimated any hope of legitimacy the sub genre might have had in the post-90s. With a brash new attestation in the form of Trident Wolf Apocalypse the truth could not possibly be more clear to any listener with knowledge of black and death metal: Watain are the biggest joke in all of black metal history.
The first thing immediately clear to a first listen of Trident Wolf Eclipse (aside from the laughable use of the “random 3 word album title” popularized by Dimmu Borgir and Revenge) is just how badly Watain has been scarred after suffering the universally vitriolic backlash they received for recording their 2013 album The Wild Hunt. An nearly unfathomable level of desperation to appear true and authentic is found in every riff and arrangement on this album which results in Watain reducing themselves to the Toxic Holocaust formula of creating a hodge-podge of parts found on other underground albums. Do the riffs from the first song on this album sound familiar? Yes, that’s because you’ve heard them on Angelcorpse’s 1998 album Exterminate! Wow, that second song has such a classic feel, it’s as if it’s taken right from the title track of Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas…. wait a minute, it’s the same song! Every riff, every song, is either from another black metal band (usually Mayhem) or from another Watain album. The record label likely pressed the band so hard to put together a “retro” sounding album (in continuity with the current trend of bands of this caliber) that they’ve reduced themselves to either ripping off another band or ripping off themselves! I’m not exaggerating in the slightest- this album does not have one single moment of a unique identity.
What’s truly nauseating about this formula is that most newcomers to the genre (a.k.a. Watain’s entire fan base) might not be able to pick apart this cocktail of black metal plagiarism. An A.D.D. generation of changing songs or albums rapidly with no real time spent drinking in any of them might be so conditioned to swapping music in and out that this will feel natural to them. However, anyone with the ability to appreciate the depth and creativity of the black/death metal works from the 90’s and/or anyone even remotely schooled in music appreciation (even at the most basic level) will quickly understand that none of these compositions are in any way practical. The riffs and movements are as cut-and-paste as the words in the album’s title: complete with no thematic continuity, logic, or reason. It’s literally just a completely randomized blender of lifeless riffs, pathetic blasts, and soulless melodies meshed together in a swarthy mass of aural defecation. I truly and honestly wonder if Watain have an audio software program with a slicer algorithm and just booted up a bunch of other Watain, Mayhem, and Revenge songs with the measures earmarked for the program to randomly generate a composition of their parts because then and only then would their be any sense to this pile of garbage.
There is a certain poetic justice to Trident Wolf Apocalypse as it personifies 2010s extreme metal and its hipster fan base in a way no other record has. This decade has produced a neutered dickless class of metal musicians and fans who more than any preceding generation have elevated aesthetics, rehashing of retro sounds and ideas, ideology, and status over musical quality. Releases like this exist solely for trashy hipsters to out-muscle other hipster inde-metal fans in “haha, I’m fucking underground and you’ve never heard this” entry type audiences only to later be discarded by another “really underground looking/sounding” piece of music. Watain (or the Century Media executives- whoever is making the creative decisions on this one) must have been aware of this to put together something as obvious and shameless a cash grab as what this album is. Unfortunately, what comes from this is a delegitimization of the overall black metal genre to such an extent that it becomes embarrassing to be a fan of any of it whatsoever.
As a wannabe black metal band formed in the 2000’s, Watain always had a lot to prove given that they were not a part of the original movement but still wanted to appear as dangerous, dark, and true to the spirit. Unfortunately, this led to a career of music void of quality and a career of musicianship castrated beyond comprehension. Watain is truly the band to do the most damage to the genre as with each album they delegitimize black metal to greater and greater depths of humiliation. And while it’s unclear if Watain actually believe their gimmick of theistic satanism as much as they present themselves to, they have- through both this album and their entire career- infinitely portrayed their dark lord’s inferiority to the God of Abraham.