Wolves In The Throne Room: Black Cascade


By “Merciless” Matt

The long awaited 2009 release Black Cascade had many people, including myself, wondering if it could own up to Two Hunters – the sprawling second release from Wolves In The Throne Room. Glorified by critics, embraced by both indie rockers and black metal enthusiasts, Wolves’ majestic soundscapes, beautiful and dark, has flowed into the ears of a rather unique audience of all sorts. Part of this fascination of the band is its enigmatic mysterious aura. The fact that this band resides on a farm in Olympia, Washington is very intriguing and brings about a realistic vibe that these so called commercial pagan metal bands don’t bring to their music. It’s the attraction of a band’s lifestyle and radical ecology that sets the new standard in this bleak, commercial scene.

In a way Wolves is picking up after these second wave black metal bands and spinning it into a more realistic, radical yet positive, new wave of black metal. The mix of pagan spirituality, environmentalism, black metal, indie and post rock, combined with radical involvement with Earth Liberation Front, is a breath of fresh air that the black metal scene needs.

The band’s taste for lengthy, expansive tremolo riffs, combined with Aaron Weaver’s loose drumming style makes for an engaging style that is very raw and traditional. That could be said in defiance towards modern recording perfection; this band is very organic. The exploding melodies and progressions that these guys stir up are anything less than excellent, almost beyond its time. While there is still hypnotic blast beats, it seems Wolves increasingly fondness for that slowed down Drudkh-eque trance is once again in this album and can also be found on tracks “Wanderer above the Sea and Fog” and the majestic” Ex Cathedra”, which also contains the album’s few ambient breaks. “Ahrimanic Trance” and “Crystal Ammunition,” both lengthier at fifteen minutes, are mesmerizing and majestic despite being more traditional in structure. The conclusion of “Crystal Ammunition” brings a wash display of small keys and epic melodies that no other band can highlight.

What Wolves does admirably well is providing an opening for a way of meditation and catharsis. This is what makes them so appealing to all these types of listeners. Of course the songs are grim enough for these urban black metal listeners, but I feel there is a lot more to it than just that. This is music that is interactive, which has been done but not popular in the metal genre. How the music will impact depends on you the listener. I can assure you, though, Black Cascade continues the saga of high quality releases put out by this band and it is definitely worth investigating.

(Southern Lord)


Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.