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Amazing. - 100%

Heffer, May 8th, 2012

I originally wrote this review stating that this album was essentially a Two Hunters counterpart. While this is not wholly wrong, it's not the whole answer. From what I heard, this album is the last piece in what the Weaver brothers wanted in a 3 album concept. First Two Hunters, then Black Cascade, and lastly this. One can easily see the relation to the albums, but they all stand completely apart from one another. After many listens, I've decided that this album is a blend of both Two Hunters and Diadem of 12 Stars. Wolves couldn't have released this album at a better time, as it was created for the autumn and found an incredible attachment between the two.

One thing this album delivers is the atmosphere. This album was the first to have the songs divided up now up into smaller segments, but they all transition so well, it's just like they still have the longer, more experimental sounds. The instrumental tracks, Permanent Changes in Consciousness and Rainbow Illness, are extremely effective in slowing down the pace, bringing a more spiritual aspect to the album. Every sound is represented in its own right with none too dominating. One thing I particularly enjoy is the drumming and the keyboards. The drumming keep the pace and when it's alone it does a perfect job of moving the song. The keyboards are well used and don't steal the light as many synths eventually do.

If one would listen to Diadem and then Celestial Lineage, or vice verse, I think the contrast would be stark, but in terms of the song structures they are very similar. The vocals and guitar work are so well intertwined in both albums that they give off a certain energy that wasn't present on Black Cascade (there was a different type of energy in Two Hunters).

Celestial Lineage is the most current effort put out by these brothers and they will continue to be a central band that I have kept listening to more often than not. As always, I will be awaiting the next release with great anticipation.

A black metal gift - 90%

lordazmolozmodial, December 27th, 2011

"Wolves In The Throne Room" is a black metal band that hails from Washington, United States, formed in 2003, and the released three fascinating full-length albums after releasing two average demos, and this year the band continues its releases, presenting its fourth album, "Celestial Lineage".

This full-length album contains many atmospheric and ambient elements, female vocals, and streaming shoegaze weather that all pound the black metal riffs like a hammer of glass, and every shred of this glassy hammer represents the wild crackly and shivery black metal vocals. The keys are playing the role of the place in this theatrical scene (Celestial Lineage). They surround the tracks and embrace them too tight so that no one single melody can escape from your ears. The production is not crystal and perfectly clear, but it's rigorous and relentless enough to paint the whole environment with the loud old school black metal sound. The guitars crash with tight drumbeats like an enormous cascade of sand and everything has been done perfectly with enough variation between the tracks.

The female guest vocals in the tracks "Thuja Magus Imperium" "and Woodland Cathedral" have been performed by Faith Coloccia (From the band House of Low Culture, and she has done the artwork for this album, too) and Jessika Kenney (from the band Asva), and they really added warmth and passion to the tracks. A lot of fanatic black metal fans would hate the variations of the tracks here because the female vocals and the shoegaze passages may not satisfy their needs for rough black metal tracks, but after all, all these variations add more perfection to the whole image of the album.

Generally, this is not a normal black metal band as every album they've made grants them more experience, and they've really improved a lot. The compositions and the arrangement are professional and more energy toward the path of atmospheric black metal has been discovered through this released. If you are into the styles of Burzum and Ulver, then this is a recommended album.

Originally written for:

An Accomplished Album - 80%

FullMetalAttorney, December 16th, 2011

Whenever the subject of US black metal comes up, the conversation almost always includes mention of Washington's Wolves in the Throne Room. Despite their notoriety and the fact it's supposed to be the final album of a trilogy, Celestial Lineage is my first exposure to the band, so I come to this without expectations.

The album is immediately recognizable as Pacific Northwestern living-in-the-forest black metal. It's as much about atmosphere as it is black metal aggression. The sylvan music is at once beautifully serene and alarmingly feral, just like nature.

There are memorable melodies to be found amongst the myriad other trappings of ambiance and aggression as well as wind chimes, subtle organ, and ecclesiastical female singing. The longer songs (three of them are around 10 minutes) each take you on a mini-journey that's part of the longer one. Two very short cuts provide transitions that sound like communing with nature, the latter of which also has a John Carpenter-style melody (think of the theme to The Thing).

It's the mid-length tracks that are perhaps the least interesting. The seven minute "Subterranean Initiation" is almost entirely straight black metal, but that doesn't seem to be the band's strong suit. On the opposite end, the five minute "Woodland Cathedral" is almost entirely pretty/ambient stuff, also not the band's strong suit. They do best when weaving those threads together. These tracks are not such a disadvantage, considering the album is clearly meant to be taken as a whole.

The Verdict: I quite like this very accomplished album, although I can't say that it's on the same level as similar offerings from the likes of Oregon's Agalloch or Romania's Negură Bunget.

originally written for

Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage - 70%

ConorFynes, December 12th, 2011

Although the extreme and historically malefic genre of black metal has its origins largely traced back to Europe, the past decade has seen it shift to the North American continent. Among this new wave of black metal, it is possible that no band in the new scene has received as much attention from press as Olympia, Washington based act Wolves In The Throne Room. Without your typical church burnings and gruesome murders to attract attention, this collaboration between Weaver brothers Aaron and Nathan instead tries to negate the hateful agenda of their Norwegian contemporaries and aim for a self-proclaimed 'light' in their music; preaching a return to harmony and co-existence with nature, New Age paganism, and plenty of other stuff that the all-too significant hippie demographic of the black metal scene would be enthused by. On a musical level, the band has taken the roots of atmospheric black metal and put their own spin on it, one that runs parallel to, but can be distinguished somewhat from what black metal sounded like in the past. On top of their initial agenda, Wolves In The Throne Room has also changed their sound from album to album, with the debut 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' testing the waters, 'Two Hunters' taking ambitious leaps into ambient music and innovations with production, and the third record 'Black Cascade' taking a somewhat more straightforward approach to their style. 'Celestial Lineage' is the band's fourth record, and the apparent third and final album that Wolves In The Throne Room began with their second album. Although I canot call this a trump over my favourite Wolves album 'Two Hunters', this album's uncompromised return to their vast sound is exactly what I wanted from the band.

Although 'Black Cascade' came in between this, and 'Two Hunters', 'Celestial Lineage' feels like a sucessor to the band's second album; moving back to that grand atmosphere and vibe that I can only describe as that of 'vastness'. In many ways, I have the feeling here that Wolves In The Throne Room realized that they were in their greatest element iwith 'Two Hunters', and that there was more than enough potential with that album's sound to make another one. Keeping in mind that I did find 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' or 'Black Cascade' to be anything special, but consider 'Two Hunters' to be one of the greatest black metal albums ever, hearing this band go back to 'Two Hunters' is more than I could have asked of them. To answer the question that some may ask; no, it is not as good as 'Two Hunters', but to the band's credit, they have made their second best album here, and there are moments on 'Celestial' where their masterpiece does get a run for its money. 'Thuja Majus Imperium' seems to be a contender for the throne held by 'Vastness And Sorrow'; an epic opener that gently leads the listener in with chimes and a beautifully orchestrated ambiance. The fast pace of the band's black metal then kicks in, but there's still melodic beauty and atmosphere riding alongside the blastbeats. The other highlights here are 'Woodland Cathedral', which again seems like a sequel to 'Dia Artio' off of 'Two Hunters', and the slower paced closer 'Prayer Of Transformation', which focuses on an anthemic power. stunning ambiance, and affirmative atmosphere.None of the songs are particularly memorable on their own, but 'Celestial Lineage' gives a familiar experience, and one of

Its strength as an album aside, it does feel that Wolves In The Throne Room tried a little too hard to make another 'Two Hunters' with 'Celestial Lineage', and while this is a much better decision than rehashing either of the other two, the album has a bit of a hard time reaching out from underneath its older brother's shadow. Ideally, it would have been best to hear the band taking their past sound and doing something new and adventurous with it, but who am I to say; when it all comes down to the listening experience itself, Wolves In The Throne Room have made another great album.

An Exquisite Heathen Ritual - 95%

CrimsonFloyd, November 11th, 2011

Wolves in the Throne Room have never been an easy band to get into. Extremely long tracks, strange song structures and a decent number of experimental twists make for albums that take quite a few listens to appreciate. "Celestial Lineage," the band’s fourth full length (and the final of The Cascadian Trilogy) is their most obtuse release to date. However, it is also their most rewarding and original recording.

Like entering the forest without a flashlight, this is an album that takes some getting used to. The production isn’t exactly muddy, but it’s certainly hazy. The riffs don’t shine forth in the mix and neither do the vocals. Everything is intertwined beneath a heavy atmosphere. Yet, once you have adjusted, you find a majestic world below the fog.

The album splits into two distinct sides. The first half starts with solemn, ceremonial, chamber music in the style of Dead Can Dance. Jessika Kenney, who is professionally trained in Persian vocals, adds an ancient force to the intro. From that stylized opening, the music builds toward a series of raspy screeches and dreamy riffs full of restrained yearning. For twenty minutes the album ebbs and flows between luscious waves of distorted fuzz and eerie ambient and neo-tribal passages.

At the center of the album stands the stunning “Woodland Cathedral,” in which everything comes together. Kenney’s sublime vocals, organ, chimes and layers of distorted and clean guitars gather around a shimmering, meditative melody that recalls “Dea Artio” from Two Hunters—the opening melody of The Cascadian Trilogy.

The second half of the album is more straight forward metal. “Astral Blood,” the most straight-forward black metal piece on the album, bursts forth with burning pace and sweeping, magisterial melodies that from time to time degenerate into eerie decrepit tones. “Prayer of Transformation” consists of heavy slabs of distortion that slowly crawl toward the album’s zenith—Neurosis style—before finally climaxing in a purifying wall of white noise.

For an album that doesn’t even break 50 minutes, "Celestial Lineage" is an extremely ambitious project. To traverse such a wide array of sounds with such fluidity and concision is truly praiseworthy. The Weaver brothers are able to accomplish this because of their growth as songwriters. While their previous albums had a tenancy to wander, here each piece is a tight web of riffs and melodies that weave back into each other and in turn, the album as a whole weaves multiple themes and motifs together into a singular vision. While this may be the final chapter in a trilogy, "Celestial Lineage" is really a new beginning, an opening to a whole new range of musical possibilities.

(Originally written for

Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, November 3rd, 2011

I've really taken my time in putting words to screen to remark on "Celestial Lineage", the majestic new album from American black metal antiheroes Wolves in the Throne Room, for this band's two previous works have cataclysmically altered my perceptions of the boundaries of not just black metal, but metal as a whole, through their leftist, earthly protestations and viciously unique take on a genre obsessed with the paradigm of individuality while all too frequently refusing to indulge in it. It's not just me who has caught the WITTR bug: both 2007's "Two Hunters" and 2009's "Black Cascade" have been hugely successful from a critical and fanbase perspective, pushing the reclusive Weaver brothers into the BM spotlight and stirring up a sound which has seen equally brilliant albums released by the likes of Altar of Plagues and Wodensthrone. With all this in mind, and the departure in style that "Celestial Lineage" proffers, it is an album worth the utmost attention.

Though opening and closing with three 10+ minute songs which for the most part bare strong resemblance to the days of old, the four middle tracks totalling 16 minutes conclusively provide the album with a more indulgent feel than previously witnessed and are essentially the make-or-break when it comes to "Celestial Lineage". Opening gently with "Thuja Magus Imperium", the song kicks in slowly with soft electronic and percussive ambience and the delicate female vocals of previously-utilised Jessika Kenney to kill off in one fell swoop any notions the band may lack the artistic authenticity to mix such beauty in their music with the harsh speed picking of the lead riff which kicks in after two minutes. Once the tranquillity is broken the song moves on to include a level of psychedelia in the soloing as well as a break to flush the song with further ritualistic ambience, whereafter a short meditative interlude, "Subterranean Initiation" dives straight into the percussive hammering which formed the trademark of the two previous records. The most straightforwardly black metal track on the album, it is still blessed with a warm symphonic overture which adds greatly to it's vast lead riff rather than the tacky keyboard noises appended to all too many BM bands.

Aside from being a great title, "Woodland Cathedral" is a slow, female-vocal led foray into sweeping synth and esoteric atmosphere which adds little in it's 5 minutes before the closing epics of "Astral Blood" and "Prayer of Transformation". "Astral Blood" picks up the pace to project forward the classic WITTR template of Nathan Weaver's harsh screams atop fast tremolo riffing and double-kick drumming encased in their wonderfully natural, organic production, but after an all-too short period it breaks down into harsh atmosphere and indifferent dissonant guitar strokes, unearthing a void of the brilliant riffs one was hoping would again by conjured by the brothers. "Prayer…" starts slow and akin to the overall feel of the album before finishing strongly but one can't help feel this closing song sum up the album: generally great when in somber, considered thought but the sweeping, attacking grandeur of a song like "Vastness and Sorrow" or "I Will Lay Down My Bones…" to kill all others appears missing.

General perception since "Celestial Lineage" seems to follow similar patterns - having seen some elements of this live I can attest from for it's power in that format - but for the lack of timeless riffs and less engaging tempo than the two world-beating records before it, this marks a step down for the shamanic Weaver brethren.

Originally written for

Not their best or worse - 80%

Orlok666, October 23rd, 2011

Wolves In The Throne Room, the band who helped to put the whole idea of Cascadian Black Metal on the map of metal is one of those bands who I can't help but feel mixed emotions about. Although I think Two Hunters is one of the best black metal albums in the whole nature black metal thing, the rest of their work has been inconsistent (although never terrible) and it must be stated the gradual development of them from intelligent artists to egotistical artistes in interviews has left a bad taste in my mouth. Despite this, I am willing to look past the statements made in interviews, etc. and judge the music for itself. This is due to the fact that I feel musically and lyrically Wolves has always had an interesting approach and one that I enjoy. It's one of those cases of a bands artistic output standing above their dubious ideologies, somewhat similar to the feeling I have for NSBM projects as well.

This album is their fourth full length, and it is their first to have more then four very long songs. I found it didn't really make a huge difference regarding song lengths, as the general flow is similar to older albums. Most of the tracks are quite good, but I found certain pieces had riffs and melodies that sounded reused from previous recordings. For example the odd ambient piece "Woodland Cathedral" felt a bit like a less enticing "Dia Actio" from Two Hunters, and seemed to drag a bit in the boredom factor. Wolves have however on this album managed to create a better flow in their music from acoustic to black metal sections, and the flow from ambient into black metal is better and smoother. It seems they've taken a page or two from the Agalloch and October Falls book. There is a lot of usage of melodic lead riffing over the trem picked main guitars, often these melodic passages are done with a slightly shoegaze sounding guitar, which while not original does work well with their sound.

The production is a bit rougher than previous recordings. Feeling a bit thiner, and reminding me a bit of a band like Winterfylleth or some of Drudkh's mid period productions. There is much more usage of keyboard which often brings a bit of a Negura Bunget feel, just lacking the exotic folk elements. I have to say though, one of the ways this album wins with me is that much like with Two Hunters and Black Cascade the album goes by fast for a bunch of long songs. It never seems to drag, and each song has its own personality. Wolves at this point in their career have mastered the balance between minimalistic trance elements and creative songwriting.

The main reason this album hasn't recieved a higher score is that I do feel that though Wolves has indeed progressed on here, there are a few too many moments of haven't I head that for it to generate the desire to rate it highly. Also though it starts off with and ends with some great tracks (except for the last track which is boring as hell), the middle section of the album is a bit less engaging, so it's not perfect for sure.

I would say this is another quality release (despite some clunker songs) from this band, who regardless of personal opinions regarding them I feel is at least one of the better bands from the US in this genre. Regarding the Cascadian scene though I would suggest interested parties to check out Fauna and Alda, both of whom I feel give Wolves a run for their money (Fauna because they are the originators and one of the bands Wolves stole from and Alda because they write amazing songs based off a deep nature mysticism).

Possibly their best work - 100%

leatherandtrash, October 3rd, 2011

For the uninitiated, Wolves in the Throne Room play a very unique form of black metal. At first listen they fool you into believing they could very well be a scandanavian BM band. Tremelo picking? Check. High pitched shrieked vocals? Check. Blast beats? Check. Pictures of the band in the woods? Check. Where the difference lies is their philosophy and their country of origin, and when you have a genre such as black metal, these two elements are very integral to the sound of the band. If a black metal band comes from Norway, there’s a strong chance they will sound very different from a band from Finland. This sound differentiation typically stays in place for lyrical content as well, because as most of us know, black metal is very much a lifestyle music.

Hailing from Washington state and brandishing an “earth first” ideology, the music on any of their albums reflect both their North American heritage and their love for nature. Their music is both harsh, melodic, and at times very serene. Their first three albums are some of the best black metal to come out of the US, putting them next to, if not above, the staple greats of America, such as Nachtmystium, Krieg, Xasthur and Twilight. Being a band that I have personally been into for years, I was eagerly anticipating this release, and it doesn’t disappoint, despite some major changes.

If you have heard “Diadem of the 12 Stars”, “Two Hunters”, or “Black Cascade” then you have a pretty good idea of what the core sound is going to be here. When things are metal, they are very, very cold, nihilistic, fast, and full of hate. When things are not metal, they are calm, serene, reverent and beautiful. With the previous albums, the dividing line between peaceful nature and black metal ritual is very apparent yet in no way sounds forced. Which is why WITTR are masters of their craft.

What sets “Celestial Lineage” apart from the back catalogue is how fluidly and without any friction this sound change occurs. The music will dance back and forth between black metal, ambient, doom and folk with little, or no strain whatsoever. Violent to calm, heavy to soft, WITTR have completely deconstructed the typical black metal archetype and sound, picked up the pieces they liked, and brushed the rest away. Many times one will not even know there has been a track change, and this is achieved somehow without the whole album sounding like one giant song.

This album is a testament to what you can do with a little ingenuity and knowing what to tinker with and what to just leave the fuck alone. It’s this polarity and transitions between both worlds that is the true magic working here. Take the opening track “Thuja Magus Imperium ” for example. It begins with soft keys and chimes, evolving to include female clean vocals, evolving further to incorporate the main “hook” guitar riff, continuosly evolving into the brand of BM we’ve come to love from these gentleman and further evolving into blends of other styles.

If you are worried that WITTR have changed their sound, please rest assured this is a natural successor to “Black Cascade” and “Two Hunters” and if you liked either of those albums, you will not be disappointed. If this is your first time listening to them, this is a fantastic place to start, as I can think of nothing negative to say about this album. Let’s hope they keep producing genre defining BM that makes me proud of the music from my country.

Originally written for:

Through which stump-gazing becomes a science - 55%

autothrall, September 14th, 2011

Washington's Wolves in the Throne Room are another constant in the dichotomy of US metal love/hate, with a wide crowd of supporters who ingest their laconic but competent compositions through a hazelnut haze of lattes and environmental rallies, and an equal amount of witch burning purists on the opposite spectrum who think they're the biggest bane to the black metal genre since kids started playing PhotoShop with Immortal. Personal politics and preferences aside, my opinion stands somewhere in between the extremes. I've always found the writing of their back catalog to be underwhelming. They'll build this obscure, longing atmosphere with a quality riff or two and then leave the listener sitting around twiddling his or her thumbs waiting for some revelation that never arrives. Diadem of 12 Stars and Two Hunters both had a pinch of potential, but I've felt no impetus to return to them.

Sadly, this same, vapid miasma permeates nearly every moment of their fourth full-length, Celestial Lineage. Aesthetically, this is a beautiful looking piece of work. I love the cavernous appeal of the cover art, the implied growth and contrast of light and shadows. I like the band's undercurrent of naturalism, which is heavily manifest through the lyrics. The band has often been accused of its preachy environmental messages and snide superiority complex, but I like that their words actually 'show' the imagery rather than just telling it. They're fairly poetic in their ability to conjure up simple and effective visions, and their obsession with mixed images of nature and death seems to fit the modus operandi of the music itself. Celestial Lineage is also a pretty clean record, with multiple layers of texture delivered through the guitars, vocals, and the thin layer of ambiance affixed to much of the play-length.

The problem is, that once you've stripped the actual writing and polish of the record of their numerous eccentricities (ambient synths, female vocals, drifting shoegazer undertow), you are left with a decidedly uninteresting and unassuming slab of mediocre black metal. I'm not sure how a band can write such a work of atmosphere and variation and come up entirely short of memorable songs. They'll surge between walls of tremolo blasting melodies and slower, steadied, gleaming non-euphoria, and yet there isn't a single guitar riff on the album which I felt any desire to repeatedly experience. The vocals are dry and dull, expressing neither the menace or scathing emotion I enjoy within the medium. And worse, this is yet another of those bands who seem to think that swollen song lengths evoke some sort of esoteric Elysium for the art-starved, and thus you've got three here, ranging from 10-12 minutes which deliver nothing more than numbness and tedium (and not in a good way).

Wolves in the Throne Room have a good eye and ear for the aesthetics of abandonment and isolation, and I'd be the last person to deny that they've thought this material through. Alas, I could make no existential connection to this music. The Enya-vocals ("Astral Blood", "Thuja Magus Imperium", etc), the acoustic segues, the scaling and declining streams of tremolo bliss, and the depth of desolation should all lend themselves to something transcendent and transitory, but like a jumbled mix of alphabetical letters in your cereal, they just don't seem to translate into actual words. No riffs or rhythms to really absorb the listener, and the bulk of the content is indistinguishable from the wealth of other mediocre black metal, save for the lack of flamboyant Satanism, sadism and suicide. It's not an offensive or 'bad' record in the slightest, but the lyrics were about the only thing that could keep my attention.