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Wolves In The Throne Room
Black Cascade
July 2009
Released: 2009, Southern Lord Records
Rating: 4.0/5
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.
Track Listing

1) Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
2) Ahrimanic Trance
3) Ex Cathedra
4) Crystal Ammunition

Lineup

Nathan Weaver – Vocals, Guitar
Will Lindsay – Guitar
Ross Sewage – Bass
Aaron Weaver – Drums

Other reviews

» Two Hunters
by Lord of the Wasteland

» Black Cascade
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

» Black Cascade
by Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus


Next review: » Wolves In The Throne Room - Black Cascade
Previous review: » Wolverine - The Window Purpose

Wolves In The Throne Room
Black Cascade
April 2010
Released: 2009, Southern Lord Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus

Wolves in the Throne Room (WITTR) is one of those rare bands that’s impossible to talk about without discussing the driving philosophies behind the music. Brothers Nathan & Aaron Weaver are renowned for their ascetic lifestyle and advocacy of radical environmentalism, which are central to the “post-black metal” music of WITTR. While black metal is traditionally apolitical and revels in self-empowering individuality (and/or nihilism) above all else, WITTR is far more interested in expressing the agony of nature to the unenlightened metalhead. BLACK CASCADE is consequently a very difficult album to review from a more “technical” standpoint; WITTR’s music is much slower and organic than the output of their traditionalist peers, and is something that really has to be ‘felt’ to be understood. Feeling somewhat at a loss for words to write, I found myself looking up other reviews of the album and being amazed at how other reviewers seemed to have a similar problem. One universal theme sticks out; BLACK CASCADE attempts to speak from the heart of the wounded earth, and the evocative results are very compelling.



Initial listens to BLACK CASCADE reminded me of my first experiences with Opeth. Again and again, the same question ran through my mind – how can anything so grotesque and ugly be so profoundly beautiful? WITTR’s music incorporates atmospheric and drone elements into a warm, mossy permutation of typically icy black metal production. Tremolo frenzies and loose blastbeats are everpresent, but they do not intend brutality or malice. Instead of the expected coldness, there’s a refreshingly uplifting quality about this music. With Nathan Weaver’s piercing shriek hovering in the mix like a disembodied fog, evocative melodies and hypnotic rhythms weave a compelling tapestry of intoxicating passion.



WITTR is not a typical black metal band, and therefore will probably not appeal to the typical black metal fan. Just because they live in on a farm and are environmental advocates does not mean they can be casually labeled as silly hippies and discarded; that would do a grave disservice to a truly innovative band. In order to enjoy BLACK CASCADE, one has to be a little more open to what black metal is supposed to accomplish. While it doesn’t lack at all for headbanging moments, the point of this album is to provide a transcendental experience for the listener, not provide a vent for gore-bellied anti-religious angst. Those with an open ear towards what could become an entirely new musical movement would do well to check out BLACK CASCADE and the transformative majesty within.
Track Listing

1.Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
2.Ahrimanic Trance
3.Ex Cathedra
4.Crystal Ammunition

Lineup

•Nathan Weaver - vocals, guitar
•Will Lindsay - guitar, backing vocals, bass
•Aaron Weaver – drums

Other reviews

» Two Hunters
by Lord of the Wasteland

» Black Cascade
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

» Black Cascade
by Kyle Moore, the Metal Magnus


Next review: » Wolves In The Throne Room - Two Hunters
Previous review: » Wolverine - The Window Purpose





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