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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.