Out of all musical genres of late one has spared itself from becoming stagnant amid its seemingly easy ability for it to do so. Gone are the days of Nu- or Rap Metal saturating the heavier scene and in its place a revolution of doom/black metal, a new wave, if you will, emerging from its crypt. Evolving at a fascinating rate and making all music addicts, not just metal heads, stand up and take note. With godheads of the scene like Stephen O’Malley already crossing genres with KTL (a duo made of PITA and himself) and creating new innovative movements in the scene, the floodgates have been opened for new and emerging talent to invite the opportunity that is so heavily knocking at their door.
First to ride the deluges of interest in the genre are Olympia, Washington-based group, Wolves in The Throne Room, with their brilliant first release, Two Hunters.
The album starts with the superb ‘Dia Arto’, opening with a field recording of crickets to set the heady, southern gothic feel for the oncoming sludge paced drums and guitars that, when working together, create an almost mournful, tender sound, as opposed to the regular and somewhat standard loud and aggressive noise of other bands of the scene.
‘Behold the Vastness of Sorrow’ however brings forth the classic speed and angst so loved and familiar from black metal, with high octane drums and high pitched vocals from brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver.
One thing that is constant thorough out Two Hunters is its unique stance within the black metal genre as, while bands like Emperor and Burzum provide an aesthetic of hate or malice, Wolves in the Throne Room instead have been quoted as bringing a more “Natural”, earthy aesthetic to the table, and not being bogged down within the model and perhaps clichéd confines of previous bands’ modus operandis.
While perhaps difficult to discern this difference in feeling with some tracks, the band’s avant-garde approach really finds its own when the vocals of Jessica Kinney are used to maximum effect on the track, ‘Cleansing’.
With ‘Cleansing’ an almost totally new sound is constructed, with Kinney’s vocals, haunting and beautiful, weaving tightly together a medieval folk sound that comes heavy with Nordic battle drum beats and lashes of slow guitar which eventually erupts into a tormented scolding of rapid black metal.
‘I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots’ finally, gives us eighteen minutes of unpolluted excellence and is easily the backbone of the album that all other tracks take shelter in as the drums guitars and vocals rain heavily upon the eardrums relentlessly, downing out all other senses until at long last we are reminded of the beauty of the sound of silence with field recordings of dawn; the chirp or birds and the slight hush of wind caressing the eardrums after their forty minute brutalising.
Already a classic within Southern Lord’s already overflowing collection of pure gold releases, Wolves in The Throne Room’s Two Hunters succeeds in living up to every expectation one would have of it and the concept of other releases from them, and indeed the opportunity theirs and others’ success in the genre will present to other great bands yet to be discovered, is a glorious thing indeed.