Monday, April 20, 2009

Wolves in the Throne Room

Wolves in the Throne Room
The Black Cascade
buy the album here

I can't really put my finger on what draws me to the music of Wolves in the Throne Room. Never being a huge fan of black metal, I was always reluctant to give them a shot, expecting to hear the same old chaotic shrieks and chest-rumbling blast beats regurgitated over and over again. What I found, however. was an extremely intelligent and enlightened band that goes above and beyond the traditional black metal subgenre, reach into their strong eco-spiritual belief system for direction and influence, in addition to bringing prominent elements of experimental and ambient music into the mix as well. Their music is beautiful and captivating, dark and heavy, and puts the listener in an almost trance-like state with some of the most unique music that is being released today. In my mind, they are as much like Mogwai, the Grails, and Red Sparrows as they are Burzum and Gorgoroth, appealing to vast amounts of eclectic music lovers across the boards.

With The Black Cascade, Wolves in the Throne Room are delivering the music that they have always desired to, very heavy and at the same time beautiful. Unlike their previous releases, Diadem of 12 Stars, Two Hunters, and even the Malevolent Grain EP, this album puts a great deal of the atmospheric experimentation on the back burner and is much more heavy and aggressive. Not saying that The Black Cascade isn't gorgeous, far from it in fact. Part of this great beauty lies in the primitive, minimalistic approach that the Wolves take with their sound throughout the entire album. There are no obnoxious guitar solos or machine-gun triggers blasting through double kick drum attacks in this music, rather it is layered and extremely organic, all of the different parts joining together for the overall sound as a whole. The four tracks making up the album that clocks in just over fifty minutes, are meant to be listened to as a whole and make it damn near impossible to decipher when one song ends and the others begin. The album is extremely dynamic, not getting as ambient as Two Hunters and Diadem of 12 Stars, however still maintaining the balance between the light and dark within the sound. Interspersed amongst the musical elements of the album are samples of nature including rain in the Pacific forests and the ringing of what sounds to me like temple bells or Tibetan prayer bowls. The Black Cascade sounds as though dark mountains, caves, streams, and forests that surround the commune on which Wolves in the Throne Room make their home are actually more responsible for this music than the players themselves.

If the earth were to speak, if the trees had a language, and if the elements communicated freely, these are the sounds that they would make. And I am sure that Wolves in the Throne Room wouldn't have it any other way.
-Andrew Bryant

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