Wolves in the Throne Room
Black Cascade

After the teasing 2 track vinyl EP, Malevolent Grain, which unveiled a new logo and a second guitarist, (Will Lindsay), the darlings of the American black metal scene return for their highly anticipated third full length album (their second for Southern Lord), and its well worth the wait.

WITTR have been called a lot of things; Hippy black metal, eco black metal, shoe gazer black metal and have also been criticized for becoming increasingly more influenced by drone and post rock. But whatever your stance on WITTR, it cannot be argued that are one of the most important black metal bands in recent memory, especially in the US scene and Black Cascade cements that fact with 4 songs of the bands now patented organic, serene and enigmatically beautiful, hypnotic metal.

Still with a slightly lessened Bergtatt era Ulver undercurrent, WITTR have indeed become slightly more diverse and ambient, as Malevolent Grain showed, but while the riffs and structure on Black Cascade tend to repeat and dare I say drone with a nature and pace that’s the virtual opposite of their vicious, cold calculated European brethren, Black Cascade well….. cascades blackness. Rather than brittle icy riffs, the trance like riffs on Black Cascade are fluid, intrinsic and hypnotic in their tremolo picked beauty. Rather than craggy, harsh sound scapes of hatred, Black Cascade is the isolated, lush waterfall continually cascading off rocks and the damp mist of the Pacific Northwest’s great forests.

The mix of truly beautiful, enthralling riffage lightly flocked with black metal’s innate harshness (more so vocally) is no more personified than the opening strains of opener “The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” and the standout second track, the 14 minute “Ahrimanic Trance”. The epic, slightly synth backed shift around 4 minutes in is simply breathtaking though some might take the songs closing moments and the start of “Ex Cathedra” as far too shoe gazer influenced, despite its knee wilting crescendo three minutes in and trance inducing mid section. Closing with another 14 minute opus, “Crystal Ammunition” which return to the organic grandiosity of the “Ahrimanic Trance”, (the shift that occur at 2 ½ and and the final melancholic, majestic four minutes are utterly mesmerizing) Black Cascade is at times as awe-inspiring as nature itself.

While the likes of Krallice, Ludicra and Cobalt and even European acts like Fen and Altar of Plagues have certainly delivered top notch experimental black metal in the more natural and challenging vein, WITTR have simply created another masterpiece to add to their already respectable legacy and stands as yet another landmark American album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
April 8th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Belgarath

    “Rather than brittle icy riffs, the trance like riffs on Black Cascade are fluid, intrinsic and hypnotic in their tremolo picked beauty. Rather than craggy, harsh sound scapes of hatred, Black Cascade is the isolated, lush waterfall continually cascading off rocks and the damp mist of the Pacific Northwest’s great forests.”

    Spot on, man. This album will definitely be in my top ten for this year…or my life.


  2. Commented by: ceno

    Great review, Eric! I’m not sure whether it’s my thing but I really feel like checking this band out now.


  3. Commented by: dr_neo_cortex

    Excellent review Mr.Thomas, couldn’t have described the atmosphere of this album any better ( probably why I’m not reviewing cds ). Great band, great album.


  4. Commented by: bast

    New WITTR album? Sweet.


  5. Commented by: Paul

    Just bought this based on your review.

    Picked up the previous album and while excellent, it didn’t absolutely knock my socks off – although there were moments of sheer brilliance, I think the songwriting overall could have been tighter.

    So far only heard the first few minutes of the new one, in the car driving the kids home from lunch. I’ve been waiting til they’re in bed to listen to it on my headphones and drink a big ol’ glass of whiskey on the rocks.

    Plug in, tune out, … bliss.


  6. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Man, I finally got the full digipack cd (as opposed to the card slipcase promo i reviewed)- what a great, arfully done, complete digipack


  7. Commented by: Vance

    Love these guys, great review and I am very happy they ditched the female vocals.


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