It’s the year of our Lord 2006 and some dudes from Olympia, U.S. release a debut that will turn the black metal scene upside-down. Their name was Wolves in the Throne Room and that of their “first-born” “A Diadem of 12 Stars”. For the author of these lines, that was a landmark album when I listened to it a few years later, as it changed the way I understand music. One may ask, what does this have to do with the new album? It’s relevant for two reasons. Firstly, because I have to warn the readers that despite my best efforts, objectivity in this review is probably non-existent. Secondly, because I think it is important to realize that we are talking about a band that contributed greatly to the consolidation of a whole musical (sub)genre, giving it its aesthetic content that influenced and influences hundreds of bands around the world, something that undoubtedly creates huge expectations for every new release.
The big comeback of the “Wolves” is titled “Thrice Woven” and is due to be released officially on September 22nd via their newly-formed label Artemisia Records. In addition to the highly interesting guest appearances, about which we will be discuss later, this is the first album of the band featuring guitarist Kody Keyworth as a full member. It is also their first release after the 2014’s “Celestite”, which admittedly disappointed many of their fans.
The album kicks off with the song “Born from the Serpent Eye”, which was the first single to be published in the media for promotional purposes. After the classic atmospheric intro, a pleasant surprise awaits us as the band engages in a rampant black/thrash attack, executed with mastery as if they were doing this forever. The blast-beat crescent is followed by a lament delvered through the immersive voice of Swedish singer Anna von Hausswolff and acts as an intermediary creating a pleasant sound contrast to the whole. It is worth seeing the relevant video, where its creators Peter Beste and Nico Poalillo successfully capture the atmosphere of the song .
“The Old Ones Are With Us” marks the epic but sad passing of spring, with Steve Von Till’s (Neurosis) chilling voice navigating us through nature’s work, carving the lyrics on our minds at the same time. “Angrboda” follows, including all the WITTR-signature signs, a composition coming straight from the creative “core” of the band. A song with intense atmosphere that does not accidentally bear the name of the female giant, who in Scandinavian mythology gave birth to the fated destroyer of the world, Fenrir. The riff that comes in after the first 2:30 minutes shows, in my opinion, that “Angrboda” is if not the best, definitely the most black metal track of the album.
“Mother Owl, Father Ocean”, expands the atmosphere of the release as Anna von Hausswolff returns to take us to a journey over the frozen plains of the North accompanied by the sound of the harp, played by Turkish musician Zeynep Oyku. The epilogue bears the title “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon” and practically roars “Cascadia” from start to finish, with the impressive riffs and relentless drumming being combined with ambient and mid-tempo parts resulting in the creation of an epic masterpiece.
Overall, “Thrice Woven” is not just a comeback of a band that struggles to remain “relevant” in an ever-changing scene. It is an essential, well-written and inspired album that marks a new era for WITTR. Strongly rooted in the unquestionable artistic capital they have accumulated over the past years, the “wolves” finally descend again into the valley with new influences, new unexplored paths to conquer and set up their lair where it deserves to be: right in the center of modern black metal. Amazing release. (9)
P.S. Together with the release of “Thrice Woven”, the fans of the band in Europe have two more reasons to be happy about. Wolves in The Throne Room are going to tour on this side of the Atlantic in November-December (check dates here). Also there will finally be a merch store of the band exclusively for Europe, starting this September. Follow WITTR on facebook for updates. Tou can pre-order the album here.