Review Summary: A truly breathtaking album that has improved upon almost every aspect of Wolves in the Throne Room's last effort.
The misty mountains of Washington state hold a certain wonder, a mystery waiting to be unlocked. Dwelling within these mountains is a band by the name of Wolves in the Throne Room. The forest-covered mountains are a fitting landscape to convey the true brilliance that has personified itself in this latest effort from WITTR. The majestic soundscapes found on the album are a journey not only into the forest, but a journey through the mind. Formed in 2004, this is WITTR's second release. This is Two Hunters
Ambiance washes over your ears. Forest noises fade in and out of existence. Slowly, a symphonic harmony becomes noticeable and builds into an emotional melody with slow, plodding drums stepping through the background. This repeats through the entire intro without much change. Somehow, your interest remains in tact through this repetitive passage. “Dia Artio” is an ambient gem which sets the tone for the entire album. This is one of the many ways that Wolves in the Throne Room have improved so greatly from their last effort, Diadem of 12 Stars
, which was released in 2006.
The atmospheric mood has also been a major improvement from the last release. This time around, WITTR has captured and encompassed a wide array of musical techniques and fused them with simple song structures in order to create a classic album. From a simple tremolo-picked chord progression over a blast beat with typically screeching black metal vocals, WITTR is able to map out an atmosphere that is unequaled in any release I have heard.
Throughout the album, there are always changes. I've listened to this album many times and I am always surprised by what I am hearing. These changes are exemplified by how distinctly different the songs “Behold the Vastness and Sorrow” and “Cleansing” are. Vastness and Sorrow is an archetypal black metal epic with a constant blast beat going on in the background as well as trem-picked chord progressions and shrill black metal vocals. Directly after, “Cleansing” bursts through the din. Another ambient intro begins with absolutely beautiful guitar drones through the background and soft, almost loving female vocals. However, just when you think the song will continue on to be another ambient passage, a clap of thunder sounds, a scream erupts and you are thrown once more into the chaos of blast beats and tremolos. Towards the end of the song, everything begins to fade out one by one. Vocals end. Drums quit blasting. Only guitar is left. Playing an eerie sound could only be a transition into the next, last and longest song “I Will Lay My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots”. This song takes the structure from the entire album and combines it into one massive black metal ambient epic. A short ambient intro begins the song which is followed by a black metal passage which transitions beautifully into an emotional breakthrough. Following this is an intense build-up, but soon all instruments slowly fade out into a simplistic guitar part once more. After this fascinating passage comes more black metal which leads into the epic climax of the entire album, which slowly fades to silence.
Even though all of WITTR's songs are structured similarly, they manage to pull it off in such a fashion where it never becomes repetitive or boring and it always sounds fresh. This black metal trio from Olympia have truly made the metal album of the year.
-Everything always sounds fresh.
-Very long songs
-A tad repetitive
-All (every song stands out)
I will lay down my bones among the rocks and roots of the deepest
hollow next to the stream bed
The quiet hum of the earth's dreaming is my new song
When I awake, the world will be born anew