Wolves in the Throne Room

Diadem Of 12 Stars

Wolves in the Throne Room - Diadem Of 12 Stars ©2006 Vendlus
1. Queen Of The Borrowed Light
2. Face In A Night Time Mirror Part 1
3. Face In A Night Time Mirror Part 2
4. (A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem Of 12 Stars

Those in the know might remember a certain San Francisco-based black metal band by the name of Weakling. For better or worse, the band achieved damn-near legendary status with their one and only album, Dead as Dreams, only to break up shortly after its release. While the components of the album in question were not particularly original, the sheer scope of the music and absolutely terrifying atmosphere was truly something special. Needless to say there have not been many bands adept enough to fill the gargantuan shoes of Weakling. That is, until relatively recently…

Washington-based trio Wolves in the Throne room have several things working against them: like Weakling, their debut album contains a small number of extraordinarily epic and drawn out songs that run the gamut of violent black metal and acoustic pleasantries. Also like Weakling, their debut album is produced by none other than San Francisco-metal scene stalwart and knob-twiddler Tim Green. Even some of the riffs (check out the mid-portion of “Queen of the Borrowed Light”) bear a similarity to that of Weakling. The comparisons end there, however. Whereas Weakling conveyed an atmosphere akin to someone sneaking a four-track into the ninth sphere of Hell, Wolves in the Throne is decidedly earthier, stripped down, and organic in their approach. The guitar tone has a sizeable amount of girth when compared to the normally trebly standards of black metal, but still not without its fair share of dirt. I seem to be reminded more of forests and rivers than torturously hellish climes when I listen to their music. That isn’t to say that all is tranquil in the world of Wolves in the Throne Room, as the music is more harsh and violent than serene and calm. Like Weakling did in 2000, the band is able to properly transcend their influences and become something truly their own without sounding forced. Even rarer is that the band is able to compose an album with an atmosphere that is corollary to its (beautifully lush) cover art. Altogether this is one of the better debut black metal albums to come out in quite some time. Highly recommended.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 06/2007

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Two Hunters

Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters ©2007 Southern Lord
1. Dia Artio
2. Behold The Vastness And Sorrow
3. Cleansing
4. I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots

In the year since Diadem of 12 Stars was released, Wolves in the Thone Room seemed to have traveled through the beautiful waterfall that graced that album’s cover into far more cavernous and suffocating depths on their newest album, Two Hunters. Not that this is a bad thing, as the band has outgrown the Weakling-worship of their previous album and emerged (submerged, perhaps?) with a sound all their own. The ferocious and epic black metal is still well-in-place, although the atmospherics and production are considerably more despairing in approach; the opening intro, “Dia Artio”, would not be too out of place on an Esoteric album. The tone itself is less forward in the mix and more, well, subterranean-sounding this time around, but not without its fair share of clarity, and the band certainly does not go to the hellish depths that Weakling traveled to so admirably on Dead as Dreams.

Along with Deathspell Omega, Woods of Ypres, and Moonsorrow, it seems that Wolves in the Throne room have the epic black metal market cornered with another winner under their belts. While it doesn’t necessarily eclipse the previous album or move the mountains and forests it tries to capture aurally, Two Hunters is most certainly representative of black metal performed with spirit, verve, and a keen sense of dynamics, texture, and atmosphere and is an album that should be acquired by anybody with the slightest interest in the genre.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 10/2007

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