Wolves in the Throne Room
Celestite


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
July 7th, 2014 | 172 replies


Release Date: 07/08/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A mirror that reveals the soul of Wolves in the Throne Room, and provides a glimpse of what may be coming

It is a bit puzzling why people were taken aback by Wolves in the Throne Room’s decision to release a purely ambient album. They have always had this style lingering in the background of their signature Cascadian black metal sound, so it is fitting then that they chose to explore these distant soundscapes in a more thorough fashion. Celestite is not only the expansion of the wandering melodies that once laced the background of their more atmospheric numbers, it is the progression of the band’s attitude towards music. Wolves in the Throne Room have been resting steadily in the arms of a genre that they arguably created but most definitely brought into the spotlight, and after Celestial Lineage it was obvious that the band’s once blazing creative fire had cooled to a soft glow. Celestite is not an inferno like their past albums, because it walks a completely different path. Rather, the soft glow has been twisted to reflect the beginning of another fire rather than the death of the first.

Fitting, then, that melodies from Celestial Lineage reappear in very distant, shrouded forms through the pervading bellow of deep synth tones and the sparkling highlights that crest gently over them. It is hardly an earthy feeling at all, which proves quite contrary to everything that Wolves in the Throne Room have stood for up to this point. Instead, Celestite conjures a very mystical aura to it that transcends the organic feeling of raw, tremolo-picked riffing and shattering drums. Because of this, patience is required to digest what exactly Celestite is trying to say. The album lumbers, frequently gets lost and forgets what it was doing, but always seems to find itself and complete the point that any given song was trying to make. “Initiation At Neudeg Alm” substitutes shining synth tones for violent, crushing ones that seem to stubbornly stick in place, but before long they slide into the background where they best belong and give way to shrieking keys that properly segue the track into its minimalistic final movement. Similar examples litter the album, sometimes multiple times per track, but the band thankfully has the ability to recall a past melody or build the track enough to give birth to a new one, helping each song find new life or allow it to fade away and pass into silence.

It would be a bit more comforting to give a more pronounced nod to Celestial Lineage’s pieces, as the connections, while present, are thin at best and often hard to pick up on. Indeed, it can be seen that “Initiation At Neudeg Alm” does bear melodies from “Subterranean Initiation”, but such ties are not always easy to find. This gives Celestite a more detached feel, but in a way I think works in favor of the album rather than against it. The style exhibited here is more of a peek beyond the black metal within their past albums rather than an ambient concentration of it. The pieces are there, it’s just that they are blurry and obscured - perhaps intentionally so. The album does not build to a crescendo, and that is not the point at all, as it instead chooses to simply wander the fragile void created by the album’s immense atmosphere. Wander it does, because the tracks have little central focus and few returning melodies, instead opting for a constant shift from one mood to the next. This gives pieces like the wonderful “Celestite Mirror” a sense of massive movement even though the song actually plods around from one synth line to the next, venturing steadily into darker and darker territory.

Celestite works best, then, when things aren’t so linear. Many ambient albums fall into the trap of repetition, not realizing that even subtle variation can turn a dull song into a vibrant one. The opener “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” and the closer “Sleeping Golden Storm” do not harbor the creative fervor of the three tracks between them, however they also provide a gentle lift and a soothing descent from the mountain that builds in the album’s core. It would seem a bit odd for “Sleeping Golden Storm” to be anything but a benign, quiet piece that has the cunning to come to life for just a brief instant before fading into a quiet outro, as it serves as the track to lead us peacefully away from the violence that ends “Celestite Mirror” and back into the waning soundscapes of an album coming to a close. Similarly, “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” would not be an effective intro had it not decided to show us small glimpses into what Celestite contained and instead simply threw us headlong into what was to follow.

It can only be said that Celestite was the right album at the right time for Wolves in the Throne Room, despite the many bones that can be picked with it. Rather than needlessly examining this album as if it were the end-all-be-all of Wolves in the Throne Room records, it is more intriguing to see Celestite as a bridge between old Wolves in the Throne Room and whatever there is to come from Aaron and Nathan Weaver in the future. Contrary to what the band has said, Celestite feels like it is more than just a simple companion piece to Celestial Lineage, and there is more than a Cascadian black metal band behind the subtle guitars and massive synths of Celestite: there is an idea that is beginning to take root. Many would agree that Celestial Lineage was an album released by a band losing sight of whatever lit that very first creative fire back on Diadem of 12 Stars, so it is quite exciting to discover that the coals are not dying, but working to re-ignite a new blaze, one that may burn brighter and more intense than the one it replaced.




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user ratings (144)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2014


16478 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This rules. It has many flaws, but it rules. Totally surprised by how well this turned out, as I sort of cast it aside after they described it as having "deep, heavy crystalline synthesizer journeying, Eno-inspired analog processing and arcane acoustic instrumentation". I mean, it definitely has all of that, it's just not as lame as they made it sound.

Toondude10
July 7th 2014


4434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The first time I heard this, it was interesting but kind of boring. I might have to give it another listen.

Good review! Imaginary Pos :D

Digging: Periphery - Periphery II: This Time It's Personal

zaruyache
July 7th 2014


7407 Comments


Wasn't blown away by this when I listened to it in pieces, but I need to give it a solid listen-through one of these days. Need to give the same treatment to Hiss Tracts first tho :3

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Toondude10
July 7th 2014


4434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Might as well give this a re-listen now since I have time. Maybe it'll grow on me.

BMDrummer
July 7th 2014


9895 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Gonna check this soon

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2014


10382 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Check this:

Celestieal Lineage

Nice review, man! Glad to see you ended up enjoying this one. I'll need to pick it up soon

Digging: Thou - Heathen

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2014


19048 Comments


still gotta check this

Digging: Objekt - Objekt #2

Tyrael
July 7th 2014


20972 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the coals are not dying, but working to re-ignite a new blaze, one that may burn brighter and more intense than the one it replaced.

Superbly worded

zaruyache
July 7th 2014


7407 Comments


What is dead may never die...

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2014


16478 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5


Check this:

Celestieal Lineage


Fixed! Thanks for pointing that out. Glad you liked the review.

Superbly worded


Thanks man, that's really how I feel about this album. It's hanging on to the end of their previous sound by incorporating those melodies but clearly trying to re-invigorate their sound.

oltnabrick
July 7th 2014


31532 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually like this more than their other albums. I hope they continue making this kind of music.

Digging: Popol Vuh - Nosferatu

Sharpyyy
July 7th 2014


45 Comments


is gold

ExplosiveOranges
July 7th 2014


3884 Comments


Keeping this on my radar.

Digging: Millicent Waffles - Under Dark Blue Blanket

CaptainDooRight
July 7th 2014


30334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

rules

Relinquished
July 7th 2014


25876 Comments


yea this is great if you take it for what it is

Asmodeuss1990
July 7th 2014


207 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is pretty great and got what I expected. Solid ambient experience bruh.

Asmodeuss1990
July 7th 2014


207 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also as usual your reviews are on point Crysis. 10/10

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2014


16478 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks!

Hawks
July 7th 2014


35838 Comments


Gotta listen.

R6Rider
July 7th 2014


4734 Comments


cap likes it so there's hope for me



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