Review : WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM – "Celestial Lineage"


Wolves in the Throne RoomCelestial Lineage
Release: 2011Sep13 (US)
Label: Southern Lord
Rating: 4.5/5

For the last five years, few bands have altered the black metal landscape quite as much as Wolves in the Throne Room. They were not the first of their kind nor did they put some kind of extraordinary spin on their sound. What they have done, however, is gain recognition as one of the premier metal bands in the world, creating leagues of followers and interpreters. Where the second wave of black metal was evil, Satanic, and all about the supernatural, WITTR have spearheaded a movement which spreads its roots deep into the soil of our planet. Be it through sound, lyrical content, or art, this third wave can be summed up with one word: organic.

The latest album breaks this pattern, however. Black Cascade was an almost perfect reflection of its title; it sounded rainy, earthy, and truly mirrored the geography of the Pacific Northwest. In this same tradition, Celestial Lineage sounds like a reach up to the stars. The graininess is still present, but there’s a haunting, alien atmosphere which flows throughout. No track exemplifies this shift more than the climactic “Woodland Cathedral”, which creates an extraterrestrial soundscape marked by a Sunn O)))-esque instrumental performance and the layered clean vocals of Jessika Kenney. Many of the other compositions use the same techniques in portions, but nowhere else is it stretched into an entire masterpiece.

All told, Celestial Lineage is still very much a Wolves in the Throne Room record. All of their little quirks from albums past are mainstays here. The only difference is the addition of other fresh ideas. For a one-song preview of what you can expect, try “Thuja Magus Imperium” — it is, in a way, a summary of each track packed into one 11-minute song. It also kicks ass and possibly the most solid piece of music they’ve written in their entire career.

Notably, for the first time brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver have performed everything themselves (except the female vocals, which are used sparingly). I hope they continue like this for future recordings. It’s allowed them to pare the music down to simply what the two of them want, creating an impeccable duo of extraordinary songwriters and musicians. While this may be more work, it all paid off.

Try 1, 3, 5, 7

01. Thuja Magus Imperium
02. Permanent Changes in Consciousness
03. Subterranean Initiation
04. Rainbow Illness
05. Woodland Cathedral
06. Astral Blood
07. Prayer of Transformation

~Willie Strausser


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