Wolves In The Throne Room

Black Cascade

Written by: EW on 25/05/2009 23:50:25

I feel it is time I may as well try and review Wolves In The Throne Room's new album "Black Cascade", because frankly for me to become properly immersed and integrated into an album of this magnitude you'd be waiting till I'd had my 25th listen in 6 months time. I also coincide this review with the review of two other highly talked about black metal releases of recent times, Beherit and 1349, as though to an outsider they might all be the same horrendous noise, to me they have vastly different feels and emotions, painting a picture of just how diverse black metal can be without the genre Nazis having their way and proving all the profiteers of doom wrong that this isn't a dead genre at all.

WITTR are for me one of the most essential bands in BM these days, in the sub-genre I rather clumsily label 'folk/pagan/unorthodox black metal' due to there being no real common link between the likes of Drudkh, Agalloch, Primordial, Negura Bunget and WITTR other than all being bands with outstanding songwriting ability and possessors of heartfelt, genuine feeling in their musical outputs. Though perhaps siblings in sonic velocity to Darkthrone, Mayhem, Immortal et al, the sense of atmosphere and desire to pursue their own objectives marks all those first named bands many artistic miles from the more 'orthodox' BM bands of yore. WITTR have always epitomised this spirit, and album number three, "Black Cascade" continues very much in that vein. The key difference between this and previous album, "Two Hunters", is that WITTR have done away with much of the frivolities in song tempo and structure to produce an album much more rigid to their template of fast, layered, atmospheric, tremolo-riffing, a largely incessant hammering of drums and shrieked vocals all the way. That may sound common for the genre but with all four songs lasting over 10 minutes, these oft simple riffs are given time and space to evolve, to take on life-forms on a massive scale. The last two tracks, "Ex Cathedra" and "Crystal Ammunition", feature the finest examples of this mysterious, intense riffage in action, repeating over and over before another one takes command on the journey through WITTR's lyrical passage of nature, shamanic rituals and positive humanity, in a way wholly contradictory to the hate-filled fraternity in most BM.

The absence of female vocals and longer ambient, slower passages as were a feature on 2007's "Two Hunters" will be beneficial or problematic wholly based on personal preference. With the amount of listens I have had so far, I have yet to discover a riff so rich as in that leading "Two Hunters" closing track "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots" but I can personally get along with the increased focus on the black metal aesthetic of speed and sharpness as suitable recourse is given to the overall dynamics of the album that you will not be left cursing the balance of fast vs. slow come the albums conclusion. The upcoming Beherit review wonderfully compliments WITTR's effort as the perceived similarities in relentless hammering and brooding atmosphere are realised in completely different ways. If you dislike the all-encompassing negativity and Satanic fixation of most BM feel free to give Wolves In The Throne Room a try, for they are a band truly dedicated to the craft of sculpting passages of glorious, trance-like black metal existentialism in a way that very few others are able to, proving that a band can somehow carve out a uniqueness through both adhering to, and breaking down BM's strict rules of construction.


Download: Ex Cathedra, Crystal Ammunition
For The Fans Of: Drudkh, Negura Bunget
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 31.03.09
Southern Lord Recordings

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