Music

Wolves in the Throne Room: Thrice Woven

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Wolves in the Throne Room return in blazing fashion with Thrice Woven, a work that defines the very substance of the black metal band.


Wolves in the Throne Room

Thrice Woven

Label: Artemisia
US Release Date: 2017-09-22
UK Release Date: 2017-09-22
Amazon
iTunes

Wolves in the Throne Room is without a doubt one of the leading black metal bands of the current US wave. Since the release of their 2006 debut album, A Diadem of 12 Stars, the band has been on a path towards completing the bitter, atmospheric black metal narrative. Record after record, brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver have produced works of great depth in Two Hunters, Black Cascade and Celestial Lineage, pushing forwards towards a less expansive but still very potent style of atmospheric black metal.

Without overblowing the instrumentation or going heavy with the melodic synthesizers, a technique very frequently used by older atmospheric and melodic black metal acts, Wolves in the Throne Room takes its ambiance seriously and not as a gimmick. Through simple combinations of ritualistic drumming, long drones, female vocals and sparse synthesizers, the band creates a magnificent sonic illusion. The allure towards the ambient side even led Wolves in the Throne Room to its ambient record, Celestite, displaying a very different side that. Even though left unexplored until the album's release, this influence was always present just beneath the surface.

The cosmic trip in Celestite was closer to Tangerine Dream works rather than black metal, but still, it produced some very intriguing explorations. Three years after however, the band is ready to return to form. The upcoming record, Thrice Woven, is a blazing black metal offering, containing the aggression and purpose found in all previous Wolves in the Throne Room releases. Starting off where Celestial Lineage ended, Thrice Woven feels like the natural continuation of the band's vision.

Through the years a constant in Wolves in the Throne Room's works was the presence of Randall Dunn at the production helm, and he has been able to get a very intricate sound for the band. Gritty and raw, the atmospheric black metal took on a primitive element, which makes records like Two Hunters and Black Cascade radiate with a very distinctive energy. Dunn also appears in Thrice Woven, but he shares the engineering duties with Jack Shirley, who is known for his works with Deafheaven, King Woman, and Oathbreaker. Shirley's style is different from Dunn's and provides a more pristine and clearer delivery, which is one of the new grounds that the album is breaking.

As a result of the production, the end product is more open and expressive, while still retaining a dark and mysterious element. It aids in bringing to the surface the influence of first wave black metal pioneers Bathory (in particular the Blood, Fire, Death era) in perspective. The opening of the track with the acoustic guitars breaking into the raw yet sorrowful black metal riffs, combining the aggressive with the emotional is a key element of Thrice Woven. It is also what aids the band in reaching moments of epic grandeur as in the ending of “Born From the Serpent's Eye”. The synthesizers have also been promoted for that reason, cutting through more easily through the mix and becoming centric in songs like the opener and “Fire Roars in the Palace of the Moon”.

The epic perspective, however, is not only awakened through the acoustic guitars and raw riffs but through the ambient injections, another trademark of the Wolves in the Throne Room sound. That was the case with excellent moments like “The Cleansing” from Two Hunters, bringing the ritualistic drumming alongside the female vocals to enact a folk opus. In Thrice Woven this aspect is explored with two amazing collaborators in Anna von Hausswolff and Steve Von Till of Neurosis. The first lends her vocals in the sudden break from “Born in the Serpent's Eye” providing a bridge to the devastating epic riffs that soon follow, and also appears in the mesmerizing interlude that is “Mother Owl, Father Ocean”. Von Till, on the other hand, brings a different touch, with a performance closer to a narration that comes with a chilling effect, apparent in all his solo works.

The characteristic element that remains, however, is the guitar layering. It is no coincidence that in their live performances Wolves in the Throne Room goes to stage with three guitarists. The thick wall of sound that this approach brings is encircling and asphyxiating. The first riffs in “The Old Ones Are With Us” feel like hammers coming down. Slight leads and synthesizers add to this majestic picture, and when the band goes for the more experimental adding fuzzy distortion in “Angrboda”, the music is simply taken over the edge.

It is the combination of elements and the bridges that Wolves in the Throne Room build to accommodate them that really works in Thrice Woven. The record balances between beauty and dissonance, providing moments that can be brutal and unyielding when they explode into full black metal mode, and then parts that are majestic and melodic, taking a cue from the sorrowful and epic influences. Apart from the obvious dark ambient and folk inductions, the band also binds elements of the '90s Finnish death metal scene in “The Old Ones Are With Us”, acquiring the weight and doom-like mode of the bands during that time.

During a past interview, Wolves in the Throne Room suggested that Two Hunters, Black Cascade and Celestial Lineage represented a thematic trilogy, as the band worked towards an astral and ethereal sound, away from the Earthy tone of black metal. Having completed this mission it was not clear where the group would go from there. Hence the Celestite album came along and looked further into the starts. Thrice Woven however also shares this astral perspective of Celestial Lineage but also has one foot solidly placed on the ground. In a certain regard, it feels like a record of introspection, with the title itself suggesting towards the number three and the previous trilogy the band released. But there is also something familiar regarding the artwork of the record. Designed by Denis Forka, the painting features the son of “Angrboda”, known as Fenris, the entity of destruction in Norse mythology being tied by the dwarves, as the tales dictate. In the respect that Fenris is a wolf, and in the concept of Thrice Woven being tied imprisoned, I hope that there is going to be a continuation of his story when he eventually breaks free. In the same way, Wolves in the Throne Room has produced a record that might not break much new ground but is well composed and powerful, and it can act as the origin point for the band's next fascinating chapter.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Music

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnorak' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.