WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - DIADEM OF 12 STARS - VENDLUS
As you can imagine from the band’s name and the album’s title this Washington-based band is not about taking the easy route. On the surface, the band is a plain chocolate black metal band with four songs, with titles like Queen Of The Borrowed light and Face In A Night Time Mirror, on this 60-minute disc, but repeated listen moves one away from simple Darkthrone or Burzum comparisons. The production has a thing or two to do with the whole affair coming across as rather flat and bare when, in fact, there is a lot of complexity and layering below the surface. The screams, the backing vocals, the tempo changes and, of course, the aggression, are veiled by technology. Female vocals exist, but are not used to weaken the heaviness or assuage commercial hounds. It sounds like Mayhem’s Mysteriis Dom Sathanas were it damned, gone to hell and come back to tell the tale. - Ali “The Metallian”
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - TWO HUNTERS - SOUTHERN LORD
Here is an irony for you. Wolves In The Throne Room members claim to live semi-independently in the splendid isolation of nature in Washington and to be opposed to modernism and technology. Exemplifying the contradiction that is the root of much of what maligns this world the band has chosen to pick up instrumentation, recording gear and enter a studio in order to embed its music on a technological marvel. There is no compromising with the system. For one to win the paradigm has to change not tweaked with or compromised with. Wolves In The Throne Room is being hypocritical of course.
Moreover, the claim that "black metal...frees us from the bondage of rationality..." is again questionable. No matter what legions of Dimmu Borgir groupies might claim due to basic ignorance and stupidity black metal is the genre that takes one away from religion, promotes the worship of Satan and despises Christ and his counterparts. That sounds rational and scientific. Even if it does not for some, the music concocted to promote hellfire and brimstone can hardly be construed as appreciative of the harmonious nature.
Wolves In The Throne Room is no different from the many releases of the past few years given its longer tracks, inclusion of female vocals and black and white aesthetics. Southern Lord itself seems to have a department dedicated to just such releases. Having said that, the band is impressive in its musical delivery. Not in terms of convention, technicality or superlatives, but rather how it delivers music that maintains continuity, interest and appeal in its duration. The album starts with an intro akin to the soundtrack to Eyes Wide Shut, but save the female vocals of guest member Jessica Kinney, this is distorted belligerence as atmospheric as the boreal forest. The band's music is hardly puritan black metal, yet is far superior to the group's statements or logic. - Ali "The Metallian"
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - MALEVOLENT GRAIN - SOUTHERN LORD
Lots of buzz on this Pacific Northwest band, as Wolves In The Throne Room is adept at creating black metal that is both purist-ready and hipster approved. Issued as a vinyl only release, Malevolent Grain is a record that sees Wolves In The Throne Room fully explore its post-punk influence, the group fully immersed in spheres occupied previously by The Cure circa its early '80s black-on-black phase. That said, Wolves In The Throne Room does interesting things in its own right, forging ahead in infuriated tones all the while exploring the boundaries of black metal and how far those perimeters can be stretched, a phenomenon that is yielding explosive results for those immersed in the process (i.e. several other high-profile American black metal bands). Malevolent Grain is the sound of a band slowly reaching towards its peak - when Wolves In The Throne Room gets there, we’ll all be damned. - James Tape
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - BLACK CASCADE - SOUTHERN LORD
It’s fitting that Black Cascade begins with the sound of rain as opposed to the usual Scandinavian snow/ice wind-storm: a rural farm in the American Pacific Northwest is where Wolves In The Throne Room resides, and that area’s ecological effect has always been at the heart of this band, both thematically and aesthetically. On Black Cascade Wolves In The Throne Room has taken the foundation laid by its wildly expansionist Two Hunters and pushed it even further, the band still merging its penchant for post-punk and shoegaze moments amidst its pure black metal but now sounding like a collective that has done this before and is going to one-up itself, thank you very much. Wolves In The Throne Room has never been known for its brevity and here the group stays between the 11 and 14 minute mark for its songs and, as usual, the material doesn’t suffer any sort of lag nor does it become tedious. Instead, there really is a sense of being swarmed by the thick fog of the group’s native Washington state as the majestic guitar swells do their work alongside the cold chord patterns of the Norwegian variety. The production here is to be commended as well, the record sounding gloriously old school as a result of the band’s decision to record on 2-inch tape a mixed on an early '70s console. Now, if only the Pitchfork/Vice-reading hipsters would go away and stop pretending to like this band (as well as Nachtmystium, Boris and Mastodon), those annoyances flooding recent black metal shows and generally causing a surreal sense of who-the-fuck-are-these-hipster-douchebags-and-why-the-fuck-are-they-here? while the band is on stage raging. - James Tape
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - BLACK CASCADE - SOUTHERN LORD
Wolves In The Throne Room is gradually becoming both prolific and Southern Lord Recording’s main band. These are not bad things given the album’s music and the group’s penchant for independence of thought. Black Cascade features the duration of a full-length album, but only four tracks with Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog, Ahrimanic Trance, Ex Cathedra and Crystal Ammunition. As abstract and ominous as the titles are it is the music that rises to the occasion and fulfils part the black metal spheric orbit of the group and the biography-mentioned “Pacific North West” vibe. The simulated rain is dubbed amidst a rumbling of pounding chords versus acoustic and atmospheric ambience. No matter which, the trio is passionate and exudes it. With the variation in tone comes a certain degree of adulteration, but the key to this band, the fervour, the care, the steadfastness, comes through nevertheless and does so consistently. As simple as the chords and notes are it is the arrangement that proclaims the band’s dedication and ultimately meaning.
Even with the abundance of instrumental passages foregoing the harsh vocalizations Black Cascade is obviously too extreme for the average Joe. Nonetheless, in terms of ambience or tonality there is hardly much out there with equal amount of passion. The more listens the better and more of the same please! - Ali “The Metallian”
InterviewsCurrently one of the most talked about American black metal bands,
Wolves In The Throne Room merits all the interest: latest record, Two
Hunters, is a far-reaching effort that sees the group hitting the
outer confines of black metal and then reaching beyond them. This is
mature, wide-open material, a unique amalgam of frozen Norwegian
landscapes and sensory confusion a la My Bloody Valentine, all the
while creating an epic, coherent whole. Wolves In The Throne Room,
along with fellow American group Nachtmystium, is bringing black
metal to new places, whilst not sacrificing its original intent and
spirit. Interview with Aaron Weaver conducted by James Tape -
METALLIAN: Does the band consider itself black metal and, if so, what
are the group's thoughts on being described this way?
AW: As our music and our philosophies grow and mature, the black
metal label seems less and less apt. It has begun to feel limiting
and claustrophobic. It seems that black metal has become more and
more dogmatic with little room for expansion on the hoary old themes
and ideas that have been around for years: raping the holy ghost or
whatever. Our music is connected to a life-vision that is inherently
creative and life-affirming. The sorrow we feel about the state of
things can be healed by creating a stronghold - spiritually and
METALLIAN: There are amazingly sweeping shoegaze passages on the new
record. What are your thoughts on this element of your sound?
AW: This sort of idea, submerging melody in a deep sea of fuzz and
wash, has always been central to black metal. I’m not buying into
this 'shoegaze metal' trend that is popular nowadays.
METALLIAN: Where does the inspiration for your music come from?
AW: Our world is horrible. Our culture creates hideous buildings,
poisonous food, lazy children, stupid music, idiotic books. It’s all
garbage. I am a carpenter by trade and am consistently awed by the
awful death-boxes that are sold as homes, while the buildings created
with hand tools 100 or 1,000 years ago are beautiful and filled with
One would think that modern technology would make for better, more
beautiful buildings. What is the problem? My contention is that we
are all afflicted with a sickness and are blind to our eminent doom.
Our culture is in a freefall. We have been left with all of the
hubristic American arrogance without any accomplishments or great
deeds that distinguished previous generations. I believe that we
have, as a culture and a people, sold our soul to dark forces. In
exchange for our spirits we have been granted great power and wealth.
Was this deal struck at the dawn of recorded history when man
domesticated animals and began to cultivate grain? Maybe. Now, it is
time to pay the piper. Things are falling apart at the seams. I
predict that an economic and social collapse will come to pass sooner
rather than later. Black metal is valuable because it is an extreme,
violent rejection of the lunacy that we are immersed in. Black metal
does not necessarily present a solution, though.
METALLIAN: Is your band name a comment on any sort of political
AW: No, beyond the obvious that politics is pointless in the face of
the fundamental crisis we face as a race.
METALLIAN: I've read the band has an anti-modernist stance. Can you
elaborate on that?
AW: Our black metal is, fundamentally about two things: firstly, it
is an utter and complete rejection of modernity. The ”˜common sense’
principles of the enlightenment - science, logic, rationality,
humanism, reductionism, materialism - are revealed to be a sham. In
place of modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist society black metal
demands that we return to a premodern modality. I suppose we all have
out own ideas about what that would look like. Secondly, our black
metal expresses a deep and profound sadness. Modern people have lost
so much of what makes us human. Our traditions, languages, stories
have been washed away by a globalized monoculture. Humans are at war
with all that is good and beautiful in the world. Wolves In The
Throne Room is an anguished cry of humanity’s failure.
METALLIAN: Does the band view itself as part of the USBM (United
States Black Metal) scene, alongside Xasthur, Leviathan and
AW: We don’t feel a particularly deep connection with the USBM
label. I think that most USBM groups are committed to staying true
to the orthodox black metal aesthetic, something that we are most
certainly not interested in doing. I think that we create our music
with a different set of intentions than those artists you named.
METALLIAN: Black metal was conceived as a reaction to conformity, yet
the subgenre has seen a sense of conform-or-die philosophy within
itself. How is this paradox resolved, if at all?
AW: We choose to reflect on our own situation and create our own art
that reflects that reality. That people the world over would decide
that the appropriate aesthetic to express their rage and sadness is
corpsepaint and spikes speaks to a certain impoverishment of
creativity and a fear to step outside the proscribed boundaries. This
is why we say that we are inspired by certain things about black
metal, but do not want to reproduce it as if it is a museum piece.