Review Summary: Black metal that keeps it simple, but ferocious.
Wolves In the Throne Room is a 4-piece black metal band from Olympia, Washington. Black Cascade
is their third full-length album released on March 31st, 2009 on Southern Lord Records.
Ah, my quest into the twilit world of black metal continues. I’ve discovered everything from Enslaved
’s misty post-black to Emperor
’s skeletal shredding black. I’ve even heard the foresty sounds of Ulver
’s auditory hypnosis. Black metal’s horizons seem to be endless, and in a realm of extremes from all corners, it’s comforting to find some middle ground. Wolves In the Throne Room provides a little islet in the vast cosmos that is black metal. Their sound leans toward no extremes, but finds a middle ground that they can mold to make interesting while maintaining accessibility.
Wolves In the Throne Room have progressed, as all bands do. Their style has changed, and whether that’s for the better or not depends on your taste…and your attention span. In previous WItTR releases, the band has incorporated lengthy melodic interludes into their black, as is expected from any respectable black metal outfit. Besides this, WItTR’s softer movements were very intelligently written and played, performed gracefully, one could even say. Wolves In the Throne Room’s previous writing could actually be compared, on an intellectual level, to that of Opeth
’s grand poobah Mikael Åkerfeldt; mind-bending music from a whole other plane. However, on Black Cascade
, those movements are all but extinct. There is still a healthy level of melody, but often it is watered down and blurred into WItTR’s newly increased belligerence.
both suffers and benefits from this style “progression”. It erases a sense of personality that may have drawn deeper several listeners to Wolves In the Throne Room, but it also attracts a different (possibly more numerous?) crowd by making the sound more easily accessible to new fans. The last half of Ahrimatic Trance
is a beautiful black metal instrumental that should sate any hungers for melody. The hostility of Wolves’ music, however, has been brought to the forefront and cranked to 11. The vocals are skillful and polished high-pitches, but are also chock full of charismatic anger and violence. The bloodcurdling and emotional screams bring to mind Discordance Axis
’ Jon Chang. The guitars throughout the album are typical driving black metal, thudding, but I’d hesitate to go as far as to call them “droning”. Besides, dwelling beneath is a dark underlying symphony that proves that black will forever be the most beautiful metal (Gothic can suck it). Even the repetitive drums can’t block out the harmonies (and believe me, the cymbal abuse going on sure tries).
So Wolves In the Throne Room’s personality hasn’t completely drained, maybe it’s just hiding. If you wade your way through the otherworldly hailstorm of Black Cascade
, you can still hear a shrouded but very much alive version of the musical capabilities WItTR hold. Peruse your way through the stunning Crystal Ammunition
and you’ll hear what I speak of. There’s the quiet festering, the violent pummeling, and the swooping in-between. All this discord between cacophony and harmony actually adds to the vocals’ fury, (see opener Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
) creating a waterfall of cascading Cynic-style twilight metal that is good for many a dimensional listen.
While it may not be Wolves In the Throne Room’s best work, Black Cascade
is nothing short of a superb work of art, albeit angry art. WItTR’s previous release Two Hunters
was a classic, and this may be a degeneration, but the extraordinary possibilities are still there. So listen to this first, then grab Two Hunters
and decide which face of Wolves In the Throne Room you prefer: ingenious personality or pure unbridled emotion.