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Wolves In The Throne Room - Black Cascade - 60%

ConorFynes, August 23rd, 2011

What's being described as the third wave of black metal sees its roots not in any Scandinavian region, but rather North America. One of the leading bands in this USBM scene is Wolves In The Throne Room, a band that close to all black metal fans will hear about at one point or another. Fueled by a love for nature and hyped up due to their ties to eco-anarchism, I first thought that Wolves In The Throne Room was a band made popular by their ridiculous lifestyles, rather than the music itself. It was actually quite a big surprise then, when I heard 'Two Hunters', a sprawling album that first had me thinking it was great, but now has me thinking it could very well be a masterpiece of modern black metal. With an almost equally as impressive debut to go with it, I was just as surprised now to hear their third album 'Black Cascade'. This time around though, I am more surprised by how much this album doesn't match up to their earlier material. Although the essence and power of Wolves In The Throne Room is here in spades, it lacks the dynamic and epic vibe to it that made the first two albums so great.

'Black Cascade' seems to be Wolves In The Throne Room seeing one aspect of their sound that they liked the most, then focusing their sound around it. Here, it is their repetitive post-black metal element; the sound we heard on the earlier WITTR albums where the guitar chords would be given an unrelenting pace, slowly changing up and creating a real sense of black metal atmosphere along with the blastbeats and rasps. From that definition alone, its clear that Wolves In The Throne Room were never an original act for their black metal aspects alone. Instead, what made an album like 'Two Hunters' so great was that along with the black metal, they could seamlessly transit into some soothing ambiance, or at least moments where the blastbeats could take a rest and let the beauty shine through. 'Black Cascade' still has some of this dynamic to it, but in much less quantity. The most time listening to this album will be spend getting lost in repetitive chord progressions and WITTR's more straightforward post-black metal. And unlike 'Two Hunters', each song feels very much the same; think 'Vastness And Sorrow' from the aforementioned album repeated four times over with some changes here and there, and you basically have 'Black Cascade'.

Out of the context of the band's brilliant precedent however, 'Black Cascade' is still a fairly strong black metal album. The chord progressions here do go on for quite a bit longer than I would reckon some people would have otherwise been interested with, but it allows the music to hypnotize the listener in a way, and while the slowly changing progressions are very powerful, I do wish that the compositions were a little more eventful. The sound here is no evolution from the black metal on 'Two Hunters', it is almost too much the same in a way. I still think the guitars are beautifully layered, and that the sloppy blastbeats of Aaron Weaver are as annoying as ever. Each of these four epic compositions builds up to something though, and while it can never hope to compare to the fantastic pair of albums before it, 'Black Cascade' it still a worthy addition to Wolves In The Throne Room's catalogue, albeit something of a disappointing one.

Nothing to see here, move along - 40%

caspian, March 9th, 2010

I remember hearing this band a while ago, I think it was Diadem of 12 stars or whatever that album is called. Best thing about it was the album name but otherwise WITTR, aside from a clunky but pretty cool band name seemed pretty unremarkable, really. If it weren't for the nutty ecofeminism gimmick and Pitchfork support (neither of which are positives) this would be a rather forgettable black metal band.

Things haven't really changed much, it seems. I don't really see how, say, "Ahrimanic Trance" is terribly different from a lot of run of the mill forest-y BM. The guitars are played a bit looser, perhaps, and there's a synth-y climax in it which isn't all too different from what Darkspace, Sun of the Blind and a bunch of spacey black metal bands have been doing for some time. I get a bit of a slightly chilled out vibe from it; this doesn't really sound like Sleep but you could call it "Stoner Black Metal" if you want; the guitar tone in particular has that sort of thing going, plus the tendency the band has to drone for a while on one or two chords. Nothing terribly far out or worthy of much applauding, or indeed, condemning. I don't really see how this is so different from stuff like Drudkh. There's one pretty experimental bit- that neat little bit of shimmering guitar ambient in "Ex Cathedra"- but the most noteworthy thing about is that it's hella awkwardly placed in the song.

Maybe it's the fact that I'm listening to this without a lyric sheet, without a CD booklet in front of me explaining the lyrical and ideological content that's here? But that begs the question- if it sounds average without knowledge of the "gimmick", as such- and it most assuredly is a gimmick- why does being naturist or whatever make this even the least bit more worthwhile? Why is this seen as special? Most of it's fluffy forest metal that clearly loves Burzum (though one can never approve of his political leanings!!1) but wants to be perhaps a bit more straight out pleasant; thus the softer guitar tone and more straightforward melodic chord progressions- I can't really bring myself to call them riffs. Again, Drudkh comparisons come up, although this isn't nearly as good as Autumn Aurora.

I dunno, it's competent and there's nothing offensive about it, but there's certainly nothing great, or even particularly good about it either. I have a feeling WITTR have been aware of their shortcomings for some time too, thus the nature gimmick and them taking the Southern Lord/Pitchfork/pretentious idiot route to relative black metal "stardom". They're certainly good at marketing, it's just a shame they're not as good as music. Blah-ish black metal that's really not worth anyone's time, although you may turn a profit by buying some vinyl and e-baying it in a few years.

What Happened Here? - 60%

moonshield_jester, January 19th, 2010

Am I missing something? In the midst of seeing many reviews praising this album to kingdom come, I can’t but think that I’m maybe the only one who feels this third effort from Wolves in the Throne Room is quite the disappointment given the lofty standards the band set for themselves on their previous two masterpieces.

Judging from the album cover alone, two things are apparent. For one, the old logo has been replaced. Not a big deal. Second, the nature themed artwork has been taken over this time by a ghostly image of two figures amidst a sea of black. No problem. In fact, the artwork is very interesting. But the interesting factors stop there for me. Once the music kicks in, it sounds like your typical WIITR album. Or does it? Therein lies one of the issues for me. The band’s playing in their signature form, but there’s something missing that I can’t put my finger on. The tremelo riffs start to sound tiresome, generic even. Where’s that mystical and earthy atmosphere? This is the question I asked myself through almost the entire album. And it’s not just that the atmosphere appears missing, it’s that the band is offering no new ideas to their already established formula. I enjoy the repetition that this band utilizes, but on Black Cascade that repetition only weakens the album because the riffs being played are not interesting to begin with. The quiet acoustic passages are still there from time to time, but those are maybe the only standout parts about the album. Lastly, there are the vocals. It’s largely the same as the style used on Malevolent Grain. In other words, they’re harsher and more aggressively styled than previous efforts. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but on this album they aren’t impressive sounding. Almost like the passion WIITR once had has been sucked clean dry.

I must emphasize how disappointing this album is for me. WIITR have been a favorite band of mine within the black metal genre thanks to albums like Diadem of the 12 Stars and Two Hunters. Hell, I even really like the EP, Malevolent Grain. The two songs from that EP far exceed the quality given on Black Cascade. But it appears the band was uninspired for this release and offers nothing new for the band. Maybe the worst part of all this is that Black Cascade isn’t even a bad album really. It’s just very mediocre from a band that is capable of far greater things. I can only hope this is some weird fluke that most great bands go through at least once in their careers, and that the next album will reseat WIITR back in their proper place among America’s must-hear metal bands.

Black cascade - 100%

TheMoose, November 27th, 2009

Having only recently discovered the genre of black metal in recent months and as I write delving enthusiastically into every nook, crany and crevice I can find. I can’t even recall how I came to hear of Wolves in the throne room but I can only say one thing…. THANK FUCK I DID! This is possibly the best album of any genre of metal that I’ve heard in ages! “wanderer above the sea of fog” starts out sounding like any other black metal number and as I’ve seen countless people say “they play one riff for 10 minutes” but I must digress, these people plainly are not listening. Put on headphones or turn your stereo up and just lie back and listen. Because admittedly on first listen I didn’t get it but second time around I just lay back and listened. This is where the beauty of this album lies.

The songs are constantly mutating, riffs change subtly with ambient keyboard additions coming in and out changing the feel of even the same riff or section in an instant taking you on an otherworldly rollercoaster ride. The songs constantly throw new textures at you, whether it’s the almost hypnotic ending to “ahrimanic trance” or the swirling atmospherics of “ex cathedra” or even the folkish refrain of “crystal ammunition”. The album perfectly captures the isolated organic feel of the environment in which the band surrounds themselves.

Which brings us to the production in that there is not an ounce of studio sheen or gloss to be found here. But there is still a clarity to the sound which means that every instrument can be heard and distinguished, which gives the album a natural organic yet still intricate feel. A lot of people say that these guys sound like Burzum and to be honest they do. But what Wolves in the throne room do is move away from the satanic blasphemy of black metals origins and follow their own path which in itself is absolutely amazing.

I can not find the words to describe how amazing this piece of work is because what Wolves in the throne room have done is create an album which you could happily get lost in for years and never want to find your way back. An absoloute classic!

Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade - 90%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 21st, 2009

I feel it is time I may as well try and review Wolves In The Throne Room's new album "Black Cascade", because frankly for me to become properly immersed and integrated into an album of this magnitude you'd be waiting till I'd had my 25th listen in 6 months time. I also coincide this review with the review of two other highly talked about black metal releases of recent times, Beherit and 1349, as though to an outsider they might all be the same horrendous noise, to me they have vastly different feels and emotions, painting a picture of just how diverse black metal can be without the genre Nazis having their way and proving all the profiteers of doom wrong that this isn't a dead genre at all.

WITTR are for me one of the most essential bands in BM these days, in the sub-genre I rather clumsily label 'folk/pagan/unorthodox black metal' due to there being no real common link between the likes of Drudkh, Agalloch, Primordial, Negura Bunget and WITTR other than all being bands with outstanding songwriting ability and possessors of heartfelt, genuine feeling in their musical outputs. Though perhaps siblings in sonic velocity to Darkthrone, Mayhem, Immortal et al, the sense of atmosphere and desire to pursue their own objectives marks all those first named bands many artistic miles from the more 'orthodox' BM bands of yore. WITTR have always epitomised this spirit, and album number three, "Black Cascade" continues very much in that vein. The key difference between this and previous album, "Two Hunters", is that WITTR have done away with much of the frivolities in song tempo and structure to produce an album much more rigid to their template of fast, layered, atmospheric, tremolo-riffing, a largely incessant hammering of drums and shrieked vocals all the way. That may sound common for the genre but with all four songs lasting over 10 minutes, these oft simple riffs are given time and space to evolve, to take on life-forms on a massive scale. The last two tracks, "Ex Cathedra" and "Crystal Ammunition", feature the finest examples of this mysterious, intense riffage in action, repeating over and over before another one takes command on the journey through WITTR's lyrical passage of nature, shamanic rituals and positive humanity, in a way wholly contradictory to the hate-filled fraternity in most BM.

The absence of female vocals and longer ambient, slower passages as were a feature on 2007's "Two Hunters" will be beneficial or problematic wholly based on personal preference. With the amount of listens I have had so far, I have yet to discover a riff so rich as in that leading "Two Hunters" closing track "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots" but I can personally get along with the increased focus on the black metal aesthetic of speed and sharpness as suitable recourse is given to the overall dynamics of the album that you will not be left cursing the balance of fast vs. slow come the albums conclusion. The upcoming Beherit review wonderfully compliments WITTR's effort as the perceived similarities in relentless hammering and brooding atmosphere are realised in completely different ways. If you dislike the all-encompassing negativity and Satanic fixation of most BM feel free to give Wolves In The Throne Room a try, for they are a band truly dedicated to the craft of sculpting passages of glorious, trance-like black metal existentialism in a way that very few others are able to, proving that a band can somehow carve out a uniqueness through both adhering to, and breaking down BM's strict rules of construction.

Originally written for Rockfreaks.net

A Black Cascade In The Throne Room. - 95%

Perplexed_Sjel, August 6th, 2009

If you know anything about my taste, by looking at the majority of my reviews, it should come as no surprise that I enjoy Wolves In The Throne Room, or WITTR, as they’re normally abbreviated to. For me, this is a strange band. To put into words how much I have enjoyed listening to them in the past and the present is difficult. The strange thing is, no matter how much I have enjoyed the band in the past, it wasn’t until ‘Black Cascade’ hit me, and sunk in, that I truly learned to appreciate the band for the talented musicians that they clearly are. Previously, despite enjoying the first two records, I neglected WITTR for reasons unknown. In my opinion, before entering into the world of the magical ‘Black Cascade’, WITTR were good, but not exceptional. Having become intoxicated by this band, due to this record, I have gone back in time and evaluated the bands previous efforts based on the attributes shown in them individually. Its fair to say that this American outfit is forever evolving and it is because of that, that they are always fresh in the mind. Each record represents a different era and each record represents a different sound. ‘Black Cascade’, despite the initial joy after hearing ‘Two Hunters’ is, without a doubt, the quintessential effort thus far and I stress that, thus far! Time will tell whether this American band will survive the hype and become a classic, influencing much of the music in years to come but, for now, we can safely say WITTR are one of the most important bands to come out of North America in recent years.

In relation to the general sound of WITTR, there is none. This band are constantly evolving to suit their needs whenever they record and release a new full-length. The introduction to this bands full-length history is different to what we have here in several ways. First, the production has altered since the days of ‘Diadem of 12 Stars’ and with it, the movement of the music has altered too. On previous efforts, WITTR had a cleaner sound, to my ears. The debut is a representation of this given how wonderfully it incorporates clean chants and smooth sections of instrumentation as opposed to the harsh textures of ‘Black Cascade’ which, whilst drawing some similarities, tends to suggest that there are some new, perhaps mature influences behind this environmentally based record. The introduction to ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ came as no major surprise to me - a sample of a slight breeze and falling rain - but then came the major shock - a change to the vocal expression and a more aggressive backbone to the guitars, which rely more on distortion now than ever before. This seems even more true when judged in comparison to efforts like ‘Cleansing’, taken from the monumental ‘Two Hunters’ full-length. This song exhibited a tribal sound, one which was in harmony with the vigorous environmental factor in this bands modernist style. This tribal ethic was fantastic portrayed by the female vocals, slowly paced instrumentation and tribal drumming, but all of this has been stripped away on ‘Black Cascade’.

What we’re left with is a piece that resembles Trist’s ‘Zrcadlení Melancholie’ more than it does previous records from this band. To me, WITTR are one of the most important American black metal bands of the current generation, which has been labelled as a crop of misfits in an era without true direction. Not only do they inspire with their extravagant brand of music, they breach a rule that has been considered the norm since the genre was first created. Though I wouldn’t consider the band mainstream, I do notice that in the short time they’ve been around, they have reached and touched people’s lives in areas of fan bases that metal bands normally wouldn’t extend to - particularly black metal bands, who’re generally obsessed with being mysterious and obscure. Though WITTR adhere to those concepts, they adhere to them in the correct manner - musically. The ideological nature of this band has been well documented and many call them frauds, but what cannot be denied is the fact that, lyrically, WITTR are one of the most interesting bands in the scene at the moment. For me, this band and, ironically, fellow American band Panopticon, are the most striking bands when it comes to lyrical content - an area of metal music I rarely take into account unless the subjects speak volumes to me, or if I’m generally interested in the concepts. These two, for example, are driven towards political manners that aren’t normally associated with black metal bands.

We’re all accustomed to National Socialist bands - though we may not like, or respect their opinions - bands like WITTR, who express an interest in the following; left-wing politics, radical environmentalism and ecofeminism are amongst the most interesting concepts to be drawn into the black metal battle that sees warring factions, divided by beliefs and instrumentation values, seek attention for the most radical ideas. Of course, there are some references within the lyrics to concepts most black metal fans will be accustomed to, like nature and sorrow, but WITTR are still one of the most intriguing based upon lyrics alone. Although it is hard to imagine musical perfection, ‘Black Cascade’ comes close to that idea. There are, on those few occasions, bands who come across our paths with records that take complete control of our entire being and with that, they consume our souls and upon reviewing this material, it is easy to become hyperbolic. When I’ve reviewed records before, and given them perfect scores - which hasn’t been often - it was due to the fact that the record was forcing me to do so, there and then, but with ‘Black Cascade’, I have taken several weeks, months even, to sit down and truly immerse myself in all that it is. I have not written this, like my previous 100%’s (though, please do not discredit them!), on a whim. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much for the content to sink in without much trouble. The emotionally driven soundscapes are fused with a consistent instrumental style that makes the lengthy songs easy to digest.

I have let this digest and, as far as I can make out, this is one of the best black metal records of ALL time, not just this year. This phenomenal journey is one that takes us along a road that has clichés posted on all the road signs, “out of body experience”, “epitome of ambiance” or “the most inspired record you will ever hear” but never before have those terms seemed so apt in relation to a single piece of musical brilliance. From ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ to ‘Crystal Ammunition’, this record doesn’t indicate to me that I should consider ‘Black Cascade’ one of my personal favourites, it forces me to prophesise that this is one of the greatest tributes to black metal music in the entire industry. In my tired state, I don’t feel like I’m going overboard in my sentiments. Given the material, from the astral ambiance, to the unique vocal portrayal, I feel I am completely justified in my opinion. Of course, I don’t imagine my opinion will sit well with everyone, but I will still wholeheartedly recommend this to every Tom, Dick and Harry - and then their mothers! Initially, I even had some apprehension as to what I was going to get. The long nature of the songs left me feeling weary before I even heard the material, but it flows so effortlessly, that the lengthy state that even enter to my mind once I’m transfixed on the transcendental material that causes my mind to race across the many areas of life. The free flowing sound actually gives me the impression that WITTR could have stretched their songs out even more and still have gotten a positive response.

From the elemental nature of life on Earth, through the wind, fog and thick atmosphere of the tropics to the oceanic areas, up to the night skies, everything about this record seems to touch upon all quintessential and inspiring aspects of life. As a huge fan of nature, magic and mystery, this record appeals to my personality. The dynamic vibe moves in and out of the instrumentation with an ease that inspires awe within me. From the double barrelled nature of the record, with two guitarists and a lead and backing vocals, even the repetitious riffs, to the tremolo bass, every area seems to be in tune with my feelings and depicts to me exactly how I would feel if the vivid imagery this records adventurously displays were true to life and actually occurring. Certain aspects of the soundscapes reminds me of other notable records this year, particularly the juxtaposed synths which offer wave after wave of elemental ambiance on songs like ‘Ex Cathedra’ to the traditionalist tremolo and double bass offerings, including Altar of Plagues debut, as well as Fen’s debut. This is, essentially, the year black metal critically fused with the most incredible atmosphere to produce some of the best records the genre has seen in years. ‘Black Cascade’ is, to me, a modern day masterpiece. My one concern would be the vocal depiction. On songs like ‘Ahrimanic Trance’, the vocals do sound overdone, perhaps even too synthetic. The emotional context is whitewashed over by this overbearing vocals but, thankfully, the vocal depiction has never been the reason we all tune in to black metal. However, in relation to the previous efforts, this is definitely the best.

I just miss the ambiance - 85%

Link5232, July 6th, 2009

If you don't already know about the hype, stories, or rumors surrounding Wolves In The Throne Room, it's possible that your knowledge of the recent trends of metal is in a dwindling state. Formed back in 2004 between two brothers Nathan and Aaron, Washington's Wolves In the Throne Room recorded a demo that saw them playing atmospheric yet punky Black Metal. However, come 2005, they added Rick to their band, the member who is noted for having given them their tradmark "earthly sound."

After two albums and a whole lot of touring, Rick decided it was time to part ways with the band. The Weaver brothers weren't finished though, and enlisted the help of Will Lindsay to join their ranks and would ultimately be the lead guitarist for their 2009 release of Black Cascade. But not only has WITTR evolved from the ethereal and omniscient band that brought you the overbearing Diadem of 12 Stars, they have evolved into their own monster, transcending the boundaries of typical Black Metal and eschewing the notoriety of being a secluded genre of music. Being dubbed the killers of Black Metal thanks to their indie exposure and "Pitchfork friendly" aesthetic, it's easy to see why WITTR is the leading supplier of "Indie Black Metal."

For those concerned with the music and not the image, though, Black Cascade sees WITTR treading waters they have swam before, but this time around something is missing from the formula. Instead of the rattling atmosphere found on Diadem's opener "Queen of the Borrowed Light" or the haunting and brooding "Vastness and Sorrow" from Two Hunters, "Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog" shows off once more that WITTR really know how to write a stellar tune. However, the issue of Black Cascade in it's totality is that the production isn't as romantic as their previous albums. Sure, for almost an hour, the three guys in this band rock your face off with a trance of music and hypnotic riffs, but the lack of emotion in the production has really swayed WITTR away from what made them special. Believe me, I could sit here and tell you all day how much I love Black Cascade, because I really do. The album exerts some of WITTR's finest and most mature song writing to date, but the issue lies in its production. What baffles me is that Randall Dunn, the mastermind behind the production of Two Hunters, is once again maning the boards for this album. Two Hunters thrived with an ambient, thick, open production, but Black Cascade manages to focus on an effort of closed in, suffocated Black Metal that doesn't get the room to speak as loudly as the band's other opuses. It's atmospheric, sure, but this album completely lacks the open ended "forest air" appeal of their supposed ecofriendly Black Metal.

Don't let the production fool you, though, as Wolves has truly written some great songs. Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog, the shortest song on the album at 10:33, shows that WITTR can write an endless amount of these droning Black Metal epics while still spicing it up with a faster drum section that can really elicit a hearty juxtaposition, proving Aaron is a master at connecting drum patterns in ways that typical Black Metal bands fail. No over abundance of blast beats here, oh no oh no. What you get is a slow discordance of chords buried very thinly over a very fast, almost hardcore inspired drum pattern. The albums masterpiece, Crystal Ammunition, shows off the diversity of WITTR's style and writing. Through the song is a burst of folk influence, as well as an ambient ending of total fuzz and shamanic ritual sounds that cull the imagery of a fire burning near their supposed forest home. Crystal Ammunition serves as a precursor to the future of a band growing more roots as the songs release, staking their claim in the world of Metal.

While Black Cascade shows off the overall tenacity of WITTR's writing style and their maturiy as a band, the group falters to show a destiny of atmospheric greatness. Being signed to Southern Lord doesn't automatically mean that these boys need to go and throw their morals away and dumb down their production. WITTR has enough exposure, and becoming more clean and crisp is just another track on the mainstream appeal train for the droning masses that can't appreciate the true art that WITTR creates on a record.

Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade - 90%

CyclicChaos8, May 15th, 2009

Black Cascade, Wolves in the Throne Room's third full-length, opens with the sound of pouring rain. Mere seconds later, the listener is swept into a scathing maelstrom of blindingly-fast black metal, more potent than on previous outings. Throughout the course of the album's four lengthy tracks (around 10-15 minutes each), WITTR unleashes what is likely their best work in every respect.

Led by brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver, the former helming vocals and guitars, the latter being the skinsman, WITTR's sound can best be described as nature-inspired black metal. With Black Cascade, WITTR further cements their position in the upper echelon of said sub-sub-genre, with nods to Enslaved, Negura Bunget, Drudkh, and Agalloch. In particular, WITTR expertly mimes Drudkh's immeasurable talent for sweeping, tremolo-picked, melancholic black metal passages, but as opposed to a folk sound structure, WITTR exhibits somewhat of an epic, environmental vibe. The roaring guitars, loud, chaotic, and overflowing with energy, along with the phenomenal drumming, give Black Cascade a layered, rich, organic, and powerful sound encapsulated more perfectly than on Diadem of 12 Stars and Two Hunters. Nathan's raspy, screaming vocals have never been more biting and effective, and the inclusion of faint background keyboards lend additional melancholy and awe. The pace of the four songs is frequently slowed, quickened, and stopped, breaking unexpectedly to keyboard/guitar ambient noise, acoustic passages, or simply a back-to-start slowdown of aural lava.

Wolves in the Throne Room's Black Cascade is one of the best modern examples of the raw, emotional power of black metal, and is highly recommended to fans of any of the aforementioned groups, or those who seek the musical equivalent to an acid rainstorm in the middle of a heavily wooded area.

Black Metal Reborn - 95%

Facegrindscumfuck, April 29th, 2009

I have become ever more tired of the modern Black Metal scene, nothing excites the senses like the classics in the genre, released more than a decade ago. Wolves In The Throne Room are different however.

I got this album whilst browsing in HMV. There is very little choice for decent Metal in a HMV as you should know, which is why this album caught my eye. I had heard many great things about them and also their very strange stance on what black metal should be about, intrigued me. So with a little apprehension in my mind, I purchased it. Best thing Ive ever done.

It starts subtly enough, rain falling. Then comes a great Black Metal Chord Of Impending Doom. As soon as the chord starts, you are aware that something majestic is about to happen. It kicks in full force, with intense shrieking and (mostly) unintelligible lyrics. I agree with alot of users on the burzum comparisons, although where Varg would sometimes whimper, Wolves never relent. The songs are intensely long, yet never boring, never rehashing old riffs, sometimes burning slowly, mostly igniting the ears. Ive never heard black metal sound so essential. Im almost disgusted that I didnt start listening to this band earlier.

My favourite track is Crystal Ammunition, it sounds so haunting, yet so hard hitting at the same time. The vocals are superb, the guitars have a lovely warm feeling which is rare in black metal and the drums are unique in the genre, with some really nice variation in his work. You can tell these songs have been moulded and shaped to perfection, everything sounds amazing.

In short, this album is re-ignited my love of Black Metal, a genre I was fast becoming bored with. Such a unique take is refreshing yet they dont stray too far away from the black metal path. Highly recommended for anyone feeling the same, slightly bored of the same tried and tested black metal. Essential music.

It is a little hard to digest in one sitting as there are only 4 songs, 2 being ten minutes and 2 being fourteen but after multiple listens, each becomes familiar and each has a sound all of its own. Ive got the other albums arriving any day now, when i shall be locking myself away and listening to more of the mighty Wolves In The Throne Room...

WitTR now at crossroads in career - where to next? - 83%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 23rd, 2009

Like "Two Hunters", this album plays as a four-part epic soundtrack to an unmade movie. And the music certainly is epic: "Black Cascade" is black metal all the way through yet there is a grand, majestic and sweeping quality in the music beyond the shower of BM guitars, the hard-hitting percussion and harsh croaking voices. Given the band's commitment to living sustainably off the land and the music's nature-oriented themes, you might think WitTR should go for an approach emphasising misty atmospheres, constant guitar-generated rainfall and a raw, primitive sound - but the musicians have instead opted for a very clean sound that emphasises the multi-layered and spacious music and the various non-BM genres that mesh well with the black metal. There may be aspects of doom, folk and blues that appear in the music, sometimes in subtle ways. Blink or sneeze at the wrong time and you may miss the extra non-BM embellishments.

Opener "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" sets the template for what follows: sweeping and expansive BM mixed with elements from other genres (the music here sometimes sounds a bit like Drudkh), a lot of anger and aggression thanks to those crabby croaking vocals, and a clear edge to the band's sound. The drumming especially is clear and clean. "Ahrimanic Trance" continues in a similar way but with barely-there background effects and (perhaps synth-generated) trumpets in the build-up to an early climax that features a brief rhythmic passage of exotic bell-like tones. The music isn't especially trance-like but before the 10th minute it can be intensely euphoric; after the 10th minute there is an interesting textured rhythm sequence that involves a spidery guitar unravel, solemn drumming with echo effects and a tense mood in the surrounding music.

"Ex Cathedra" has such a cavernous and sinister feel coupled with a surprisingly catchy melody that a film soundtrack commission must only be matter of time for the band. This track also features an ambient section of icy cold winter chill, quivering guitars and melancholy synth that give a brief impression of the band having stepped into a rainforest fairyland during winter season. "Crystal Ammunition" superficially features more of the same fast and frenzied black metal that has so far dominated the album but sometimes there is a slower, steady pace and in the background there is a clean-toned instrument which later turns out to be a steel-stringed acoustic guitar (probably a dobro, this is my guess) during a quiet period. Eventually the music settles into a majestic, dreamy, lullaby-like coda with an epic Western horse opera feel that almost overpowers the listener. The sound is not that cavernous and the desolation is more sensed than felt - the music, though it has slowed down, still moves a little too fast for the feeling to come through the layer of melody and rhythm.

The tracks are not so individual as they were on "Two Hunters" where at least there was an extra singer. Each track on "Black Cascade" is like a roller-coaster ride of fast and slow instrumental music passages and bits of ambient or some other genre. I find it hard to shake off the feeling there's something a bit manipulative in some of the tracks, as if there has to be something in the music for everyone: a bit of ambient (tick) in one track, a bit of experimental (tick) in another track, a bit of country and western (tick) in another and so on. Perhaps WitTR are trying in their own way to branch out from what they have been doing up to now and want to tackle new (for them) BM fusions. The particular kind of country and western that featues in the last track is similar in sound to the country and western music another Southern Lord label band Earth used on "The Bees made Honey in the Lion's Skull". No surprise to know that Randall Dunn who produced that album also co-produced "Black Cascade" with WitTR and Don McGreevy and Steve Moore of Earth appear in the credits.

Apart from the additional non-BM music which may have been brought in under Randall Dunn's influence, there is not a lot of difference musically between "Black Cascade" and the previous "Two Hunters". The band could try exploring and experimenting with elements of their essential BM style that could enhance the nature theme. They could try incorporating more field recordings of nature and farming work into the music and use the guitars to simulate rainfall more. (The Australian rainforest BM act Striborg does this a lot.) I think WitTR have come to a point in their career where they can choose to continue as they are but risk falling into a rut or adopt a different approach that might lose them some fans but open the band's horizons. Being on the Southern Lord label, they can see what Sunn0))) and Earth have done with their music and take some inspiration from those examples while maintaining their eco-BM identity.

US Black Metal At It's Best! - 92%

FuneralDoomed23, April 17th, 2009

The essence of Wolves in the Throne Room’s new opus “Black Cascade” is (in the most lay-man terms possible) the voice, the soul, and the heart of Mother Earth. Mother Earth is beautiful, cold, angry, hypnotic, peaceful, and vast and unyielding. These adjectives personify the music Wolves in the Throne Room convey in this record. I have never listened to a modern black metal album with such ferocity, yet beauty. The guitars are unrelenting, buzzsaw like, yet thick and resonate like the deep wilds of the natural world. Nathan Weaver shrieks, and screams with such a passion that it would break the heart of the Earth goddess. I have never heard such pain, anger and disappointment in a black metal vocalist since Varg Vierkenes.

The foundation of the Earth is the crust, without it mankind would be spinning into the cold black of space; Aaron Weaver is the key that keeps Wolves in the Throne Room from oblivion. I will say outright that he is the best black metal drummer of the modern black metal movement, he is the Hellhammer of a new generation. I have never heard such talent and absolute crushing heaviness in a long, long time. The beats he keeps for minutes on end are catchy, thought provoking, and filled with such ferocity. The thing I love most about Wolves in the Throne Room is the drumming hands down it just moves me in such a way that it is impossible to explain. A perfect example of this would be in the song “Ahrimanic Trance” about seven minutes into the song when the melodic guitar riff kicks in and he lays out blast beats that are so unlike a normal death metal blast beat, it just is uncanny how creative he gets with that part in the song, and when he includes the ridiculous cymbal work among the blast beats it becomes total ear candy. And I could not help but stomp my feet, “attempting” to match that speed.

My thoughts about each song on the album:

1. “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”- This song is a great introduction to the album, the guitars are melodious thick and heavy, and the song goes through so many moods and atmospheres, from dark, droning, and repetitious to more hopeful and peaceful sounding. I would give this track a 10/10 because the lead at the end of the song is so powerful to me.

2. “Ahrimanic Trance”- Easily the best song on the CD I could listen to this one track over and over again to the point that I wouldn’t be able to hear any more, everything about this song just flows and works so well and the drumming is astounding, there is so many movements in this song that every emotion I can conjure up just fits. I especially love the ending were it becomes a ambient drone experience with guitars fading in and out like voices upon the wind, and the inclusion of peepers in the end easily gives this song a 10/10.

3. “Ex Cathedra”- Probably the “weakest” track on the album to me, there is a lot of awesome guitar work and interesting ideas being done in the song, but it just does not have the same effect on me as the first two tracks do. I do enjoy the ambient piece done in the middle of the song gives the song an extra punch to not make it completely skip worthy, my rating for this one is 8/10.

4. “Crystal Ammunition”- Probably the second best song on the album, I love the guitar work especially. There is so many unique sounds being put forth in the song from the really cool lead being sprinkled into the endless, relentless wave of drumming goodness and guitar blissfulness, it just sounds so cool and chill inducing. The passage towards the end that incorporated folk music with (I believe) female vocals sounds like Mother Earth whispering to the listener about a world of ancient times, before civilization took hold. My rating 10/10.

“Black Cascade” is an absolute joy to listen to it is dark, heavy, and hopeful. This CD will be playing in my car for a long time, much like “Two Hunters”. I hope Wolves in the Throne Room continue to churn out this music for a long, long time. One thing I notice about them is that there is a sense that they will always progress much like their Northwestern counterparts Agalloch, and progression to me is a good thing, because the thirsty ear is always yearning to listen to music that is ever-changing and unique. This album is a must have for anyone who is interested in hearing a different take on the black metal genre. Wolves in the Throne Room are among the best when it comes to modern black metal.

Nature's blackest candy - 88%

SpaceMarinesAttack, April 6th, 2009

Some of you may remember that back in 2007, I gave Wolves in The Throne Room a rather favorable review, lauding them for some seriously emotive modern black metal while giving them a stern talking-to about their penchant for filling their albums with ambient filler (roughly half the album was not exactly what you might call “songs”). There was a time, circa Diadem of 12 Stars, when Wolves was at the top of my list of black metal bands, until Finnish lo-fi necro warriors Horna pulled the rug out from under them.

But, here we are in anno 2009, and the Wolves have decided to step back in the ring with their latest release, Black Cascade. The results: much improved.

For those not in the know, which I suspect is most of you, Wolves in The Throne room hail from the Pacific Northwest; Olympia, Washington to be exact, a region whose breathtaking natural northern landscapes have a nasty habit of spurring some truly evocative metal brews that are sometimes brutal (Fall of The Bastards), sometimes ethereal (Agalloch), but always inspiring. The region seems to form a real bond with its metal brethren. Wolves represents a binding of both these aesthetics into one potent trip.

They are day-walkers, if you will. They bear the marks of cold, traditional black metal: raw production (though it’s getting better), shrieking vocals and shimmering tremolo riffs. But, they use these harsh elements to create much more melodic soundscapes than we’re used to hearing in the genre. It’s like getting a massage with a sand blaster.

The lyrical content is a breath of fresh air, as well (from what the band tells us anyhow. They don’t print lyrics and I can’t really understand what they’re saying). Those of you getting a little tired of hokey blasphemy--and I suspect that after almost 20 years of black metal bible bashing you just might be--can take enjoy Wolves’ exploration of nature and shamanistic themes … via shrieks.

At first glance, nothing has changed on Black Cascade. It’s still four songs and they’re still really long, but this time around the brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver, along with guitarist Will Lindsay, have created some more immediately engaging material. I can actually remember, nay, have stuck in my head, the opening riffs of “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog,” and I’ve only listened to the album 10 times! Not that I’ve ever held the density of their material against the band in the past, but it’s nice to have it click a little faster this time around. Don’t get too excited though, newbies, these tracks still take a few serious listening sessions to digest.

Beyond that, there isn’t much else new in the Wolves’ lair. They could still use a little more diversity tempo-wise. From the aforementioned “Wanderer … ,” the album flows with a rather wraithlike, sea-sickened rhythm into “Ahrimanic Trance,” “Ex Cathedra” and finally “Crystal Ammunition.” If you’re not careful the whole album can blow by before you know it. It’s hard to engage with, true, but the atmosphere is consistently hypnotic and that’s something to be commended.

Wolves catches a lot of flak from black metal purists for their refusal to adhere to the genre’s traditional aesthetics, as well as their rise in popularity within some non-metal circles. But I say if you want pure black metal, just go listen to it. There are literally thousands of tr00 kvlt bands out there to satisfy your traditionalist cravings. Are you really going to let what other people are listening to ruin your day? From a writer’s perspective, it’s refreshing to absorb and review something that, if nothing else, at least stirs up a little bit of debate. Wolves in The Throne Room, I thank thee.

Nature in auditory form - 95%

Aetheraeon, April 3rd, 2009

The sound of pouring rain, slowing drowned out by the rumbling sound of guitar and bass and the vicious pounding on animal skin. Honestly, there is no better way for Wolves in the Throne Room to have opened their new album “Black Cascade”, because this is exactly what characterises them the most. On the one hand there is a distinct love of nature which seems to permeate the three band members' lives and which is evident from frequently quoted interviews with the band. On the other hand, and much more importantly so, there is the music they create as an artistic vessel, which reflects their ideology as well. “Black Cascade” as a whole comes off as incredibly organic and natural, especially in its warm but roaring guitar tone. It is almost as if it were created by nature itself (as far as one can say that about a product in which human technology is inevitably involved).

The four songs of which “Black Cascade” is comprised are all long, winding and intricate songs, which tend to flow from intense, tremolo picking black metal passages to stretched out droning sections with hypnotising guitar playing and repetitive minimalistic drumming. Another shared aspect is that of an often overwhelming sense of majesty. Call it the awe of natural, if you will, and imagine yourself standing in a vast forest and the sense that can give you of being only a very small element of an incredibly large whole. It is exactly that sense that Wolves in the Throne Room manage to conjure up with their music. Despite all of the shared elements, however, each songs has its own characteristics and at no point does a song sound the same as the previous one.

In recent years Wolves in the Throne Room have gathered a lot of praise and with the release of “Black Cascade” they reaffirm the notion once again that a large part of this praise is well-deserved. The quality of this is simply top notch and there only few bands that can release three albums of such high standard, while still showing signs of progression and development.

(Originally written for: http://www.gothtronic.com/)