Released: 2009, Southern Lord Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding WITTR and their latest full length, BLACK CASCADE, and rightfully so. Over the course of their brief five year career, the brothers Weaver and company have perfected the art of creating desolate, majestic, and sorrowful aural landscapes. Combining the raw, primeval sounds of black metal with trance inducing, doom laden buzz saw guitar harmonies, WITTR have carved a painful, emotive niche for themselves.
BLACK CASCADE doesn’t stray far from the band’s previous efforts, rather offering some subtle progressions within the layers of sound. And layers of sound there are…though the band’s hallmark is their stripped down, minimalistic guitar driven backdrop, the grinding rhythms are bathed in layers of fuzzed out harmonies, accented keyboard effects, and snarled, shredded vocal chords. Though the ingredients sound formulaic, the end result is a truly captivating listen.
What will ultimately turn many people off is that the four songs presented on BLACK CASCADE clock in at almost an hour in playing time. Ranging from 10 to 14 minutes a piece in length, this is not an album that you can skim through. Really, it’s intended to be a complete listening experience from start to finish. The songs are unique, yet follow a linear path that tie things together in a dark, beautiful bow. Far from the migraine inducing drone of bands like Sunn O))), the songs are long because it’s purposeful for them to be. Whether it’s the gut wrenching sadness of “Ex Cathedra” or the intense Dark Throne riffage of “Crystal Ammunition,” the tunes cover a breadth of musical territory, and do so with purpose.
Simply put, BLACK CASCADE is an experience that has to be heard to truly appreciate. There are plenty of reasons why you normally wouldn’t listen to a band like Wolves in the Throne Room – really long songs, blended genre lines, too many black metal CDs in your collection already, blah, blah, blah. But damn, BLACK CASCADE still grips me every time I spin it. Turn down the lights, slip this album into your CD player, strap on your headphones, and let this album take you to the brink of despair.
SHAMELESS FANBOY PLUG: Prior to releasing BLACK CASCADE, WITTR released a vinyl only single entitled MALEVOLENT GRAIN. Recently, the band has made this monumental recording available on CD, however, only directly through band’s website or from the band themselves on tour. If it’s at all possible to capture the emotion of pure melancholy on recorded wax, the title track would be the closest thing possible to doing so. This should be a mandatory purchase for any self respecting doom fan.