Released: 2008, Southern Lord
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
The media-driven rumors and falsified speculation that surrounds Olympia, Washington’s Wolves In The Throne Room is hilarious, really. If you believe the hype, the band lives an idyllic, pastoral existence in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest devoid of any of the creature comforts most of us have come to rely on. Indeed, their stance on eco-friendly issues and enviro-centric lyrics hasn’t helped but it’s not like the band members walk around naked in grass huts speaking in grunts, either. It’s just that these guys respect the Earth and base their songwriting on natural aspects. On their second full-length, TWO HUNTERS, the band continues on the path of exceptionally long songs, grim soundscapes and awe-inspiring musical forays into black metal’s deepest, darkest corners.
The ambient drone behind the instrumental opener, “Dia Artio,” is equally off-putting and fascinating. Stealing a page from the playbook of bands like Sunn O))) and Boris, the slow, dirge-like pace and epic feel draws the listener into what is at once disturbing and welcoming in its presentation. Equally epic is “Behold The Vastness and Sorrow,” with haunting shrieks, discordant riffs and blasting drums that power on for over twelve minutes. A simple tribal drum beat, the sound of rushing water and guest vocals from Jessica Kinney provide a beautiful introduction to “Cleansing” before Nathan Weaver’s bone-chilling, venomous shrieks and howls perforate the tranquility. “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks and Roots” is like a long, cathartic, desolate trip through the wilderness that, by closing your eyes, you can actually feel yourself lost in the dark, barren expanses of the band’s homestead. At over eighteen minutes, this song captures the very essence of black metal archetypes—woe, hopelessness and rebellion against traditionally accepted ideologies—perfectly through twists, turns and tempo shifts.
Like the French band Blut Aus Nord, Wolves In The Throne Room is able to simultaneously creep out and enthrall the listener with their music. TWO HUNTERS is a must-have for any fan of ambient black metal or bands like Xasthur, Sunn O))), etc.. Some might get hung up on the aesthetics and lore surrounding Wolves In The Throne Room, but for majestic, minimalist black metal, this band is one of the up-and-coming bright spots in an otherwise unwelcoming scene stuck on image and presentation.
KILLER KUTS: “Cleansing,” “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks and Roots”