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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.