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Wolves In The Throne Room - Live At Roadburn 2008 - 60%

ConorFynes, August 31st, 2011

While I have always had a problem or two with Wolves In The Throne Room that have kept me from loving what they do, I can never deny that their sophomore record 'Two Hunters' is a total masterpiece. With its epic songwriting and enormous wall of sound-style production, the album was a perfect record to get lost in, or even have some spiritual reawakening to. Naturally, I have found the live renditions of these songs to be of some interest; 'Live At Roadburn 2008' mostly focuses on 'Two Hunters', adding in a few new twists to the tracks to make this a more unique and valid experience. True enough, these tracks translate well enough onto a live setting, although as far as this performance goes, I am led to believe that Wolves In The Throne Room is a better band in the studio.

Wolves In The Throne Room takes three of the four songs on 'Two Hunters', as well as one track from the debut, and segues them together in an hour of music that shows off some of the band's best material. 'Vastness And Sorrow' opens with a refurbished intro, relying more on a steady buildup rather than going straight into the metal. The use of feedback to promote feedback is brilliantly done, and what parts where Wolves decides to change up their sound in the live context are all exciting to hear. On the other hand, so much of this performance sounds like a slightly muddied version of the studio recording. Sure, that implies the band is playing up to par, but it makes me automatically prefer the studio than this.

The band's performance here is fairly straightforward, although it sounds more like a muddy demo of 'Two Hunters' than a concert experience. True, with the live audio only, we are only getting half of the concert experience here, but I do have to note that at no point here, does Wolves In The Throne Room show much in the way of showmanship or much willingness to interact with the crowd. Of course, people are there for the music, but a big part of concerts is to be there in front of musicians that the concertgoers respect and care about. The only speaking that Aaron Weaver gives here is a sullen introduction to the song titles, band name, and a complaint to the lighting crew towards the start. Perhaps I'm just being too nitpicky here, but the stuck-up attitude I always got from their interviews is conveyed here as well, and although it may be unfair to say it impacts the enjoyment of the performance, it really does.

'Live At Roadburn' is a good live album, if even only for the parts where the band modifies their songs. Besides that, it's a decent rehash of the band's material in a live medium, and while Wolves In The Throne Room's personality as an act can get in the way of my appreciation for the sometimes excellent music they make, this is a respectful release.