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Not a bad recording but not well balanced - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, August 23rd, 2012

On this short recording, their first EP, the Cascadian band Wolves in the Throne Room have opted for a post-BM approach, one that, compared to previous releases like "Two Hunters", has a clean, very streamlined sound and a stronger emphasis on melody. The mood and style are still bleak yet gentle and beautiful; any semblance to raw-edged and hostile black metal kept to background showers of noise rain and outbursts of vibrato guitar in the instrumental parts. First track "A Looming Resonance" is far more song-like and accessible to a general heavy metal / hard rock audience with natural, almost conversational female vocals dominant throughout the piece. While the vocals and melodies are very beautiful and heart-felt, the real glory of this song comes after the singing finishes and the noisy, pulsing black metal proper begins. This is a withering blizzard-like slab of black metal, harsh and supremely anti-human in its mood, and it calls to mind an army of angry giant wasps and hornets, roused from the depths of the earth to defend the planet from the rapacity of humans and their destructive activities and wounds inflicted upon the forests, plains, rivers and oceans. The buzzing gives the impression of masses of stingers rapidly breathing as one gigantic meta-being, about to attack human populations around the world. Percussion flurries and cymbals vibrate continuously and there's a crackling loop bordering on mild thunder that adds menace to the track's conclusion.

With a title like "Hate Crystal", listeners would probably expect something fast, aggressive and sharp with a great deal of screaming and constant showers of jagged guitar needles shooting through the air in thickets. Instead this track explodes with raw ambient black metal and severe rasping vocals, and then over the course of ten minutes gradually calms down, the pace becoming relaxed, the atmosphere of the song becoming colder and more remote, and a definite chill creeps in near the end where the track falls away into another dimension.

Taken together, the songs are not bad but not well balanced: the first track is very strong and melodic, the second track sounds very much throwaway B-side material. This is unfortunate as it began very powerfully but from then on the piece whittled down steadily with no variation or interruption that might have enlivened it. The conclusion tends to be a whimper rather than a bang which might disappoint a lot of listeners expecting a last-minute defiant howl or guitar explosion before non-existence claims the track. Perhaps if "Hate Crystal" had been shortened a little and another track (perhaps a short instrumental remix of "A Looming Resonance" or an experimental ambient piece) added to make up the B-side, the EP would be improved enough that it would be worth buying rather than simply downloaded from whatever website was offering it.