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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.