bitrate: 128 kBit/s
genre: alternative / experimental
Musically, at the point when a subcultural style becomes incorporated into the market, it is simultaneously stripped of its cultural message and becomes simply another meaningless object of mass consumption. Consider the plethora of politically motivated punk rock bands (Against Me! Greenday e.t.c) whose commercial success has seen the timeless display of politics relegated and contained to the bands personal history. Even the brash political lyrics of the mid-nineties Hip-Hop Scene (N.W.A, Wu-Tang Clan e.t.c) declined rapidly, while interest in the soundscape that those lyrics roamed increased exponentially. However, the extreme Black Metal scene has, and is still consistently defined, by its (anti)-political message, stubbornly maintaining its distance from the market whilst remaining self-consciously and traditionally burdened by the atrocities of its own festering scene. Ironically, it is this close-minded attitude that has allowed Wolves in the Throne Room (Olympia, WA) to breathe new life into the flagging scene. Through a process of reification, Wolves in the Throne Room (Hereby referred to as WITTR) have separated subject ((anti)-politics) from object (music), allowing both creative and political freedom to manifest itself with veracity.
Since the release of second album Two Hunters (2007, Southern Lord), WITTR have ascended to the upper tiers of the underground scene by creating a transformative and apocalyptic musical manifestation that has come to completely transcend the Black Metal label. Formed by brothers Aaron (Drums) and Nathan Weaver (Guitar, Vocals) and accompanied by former Middian guitarist Will Lindsay (replacing former guitarist Richard Dahlen), the band have consistently stated that their combined musical goal was “to create a musical expression of an expanding consciousness that linked the mythic and apocalyptic visions of Black Metal” with “life-changing actions on the physical plane” and with Black Cascade (2009), the bands third full-length album, WITTR have further sought to differentiate Black Metal from a force of pure negativity and have forged an individual, neo-Arcadian philosophy in their own image.
Despite being founded upon a traditional Black Metal musical aesthetic, Black Cascade voraciously incorporates genre as a means to broaden its appeal. Genres are woven together, with ambient and environmental samples rising and falling through the material. Melodic, Shoe-gaze drones are compounded with hazy electronics and psychedelic swings of tempo that blend together effortlessly and inter-relate between each extended composition.
The opening track ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ acts as both an homage to traditional Black Metal musical structures whilst at the same time using structure to deconstruct the notion of the subject; complementing traditional Black Metal tempos with ever changing dynamic shifts to produce a sophisticated layered composition that elevates transient melodies to the forefront of the song rather than make spectacular the modified heavy metal that features so prominently in the works of early Black Metal bands (such as Burzum and Mayhem).
‘Ahrimanic Trance’ takes the formal qualities of ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ and promotes them further, outdoing both the ferocious speed and melodic drones of the opening track yet maintaining a sense of stylistic unity between the two.
Joined thematically with the environmental sample ending the track before, third track ‘Ex Cathedra’ begins slowly but builds into an uncompromising powerhouse only to be broken down at the peak of its finery and outdone by a truly beautiful piece of proceeding electronic atmosphere.
Closing track ‘Crystal Ammunition’ remains similar in focus but introduces sombre Arcadian-folk that juxtaposes perfectly with the shrill of Nathan Weaver’s vocals, bringing the album to its perfectly balanced conclusion.
Recorded onto a two inch tape and mixed on a 1973 Neve Console by Producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))) ), the entirety of the album benefits hugely from the hazy recorded sound, allowing for guitars and electronics to merge and create not just a sound, but a ‘soundscape’, bereft of Black Metal contradictions and brimming with enticing melody. With the release of Black Cascade, Wolves in the Throne Room have provided the possibility of moving beyond the colourless walls of Black Metal routine into the bright environs of an imaginary state and, in doing so; have changed the direction of American Black Metal for the near future.
1. Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (10:33)
2. Ahrimanic Trance (14:06) (Slothbear’s Top Track)
3. Ex Cathedra (10:59)
4. Crystal Ammunition (14:21)
2/6 Summer Song
3/6 Queen Of Refuse
4/6 Robot Suicide
5/6 Dotting Eyes
6/6 When The Moors Conquered Sicily
bitrate: 160 kBit/s
01. Sudden Change
02. Blood on My Hands
03. Never Even There
04. Your Lies
05. Wide Awake
07. Interlude to Addiction
10. All is Numb
11. Watching You Disappear
12. Deep Breath
bitrate: 182 kBit/s