Wolves in the Throne Room
Celestite

Like their Irish contemporaries Altar of Plagues, who called it quits last year, Wolves in the Throne Room appeared to have lost interest in the post/ambient black metal scene that they were so crucially influential in. However, after several years laying low, they are back on tour and have a new record out, Celestite, a companion album to the phenomenal Celestial Lineage, which was released in 2011.

Although there had been a gradual shift in the sound of Wolves in the Throne Room from more to-the-point black metal to increasingly ambient and textured tones, this stylistic change in Celestite is their most radical step yet. This is maybe as close to an unplugged album as they’ll come – by stripping back the ghastly, monolithic walls of guitars and furious blastbeats, they have thrown themselves out of their comfort zone and into a synth-drenched abyss.

The result is as impeccable as you’d expect from the two geniuses behind the band – brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver. Unlike what Neurosis did with Times of Grace and Grace back in the 90’s, the album isn’t meant as a complimentary, play alongside piece, but as a standalone album in it’s own right. The other difference is that the musical foundations of Celestite are much the same as Celestial Lineage. This means that it’s already on to a winner – songs such as “Thuja Magus Imperium” from the latter has some incredible melodies, which “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” from the former uses.

In addition to the synths and guitars played by the Weaver brothers, there is some gorgeous French horn, trombone and flute playing on this album courtesy of guest musicians, which adds further layers to the ethereal soundscapes. The centerpiece to the album, “Celestite Mirror”, is one of the most ambitious songs the band has attempted, as it manages to sustain an incredible, dreamy, trippy, at times sinister atmosphere – a whole gamut of emotions for nearly fifteen minutes without dropping in quality once.

This record will of course appeal to all fans of WITTR, but it unintentionally has created a possible gateway to black metal for fans of dark ambient bands such as Amber Asylum. Listeners of dark ambient who may have been put off by the caustic nature of WITTR/black metal in the past may well be sucked in by this record and may well want to peruse through this bands back catalogue as a result.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jack Taylor
July 22nd, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: Longdeadgod

    Still don’t get this band


  2. Commented by: AR

    This band never did much for me but I have to admit I’m loving this new record. Of course, it’s about as Metal as Tangerine Dream but I don’t care, it’s beautiful and kinda haunting. What a nice surprise.


  3. Commented by: SoulReaper

    I had high hopes for this, but am pretty disappointed by how uneventful it turned out. There’s a reason new listeners still pick up old Darkthrone albums, but no one really goes back to Neptune Towers. Fans of black metal don’t typically want an electro/drone album from their favorite musicians, and vice versa, so an act that capably bridges those approaches from the start really has something special. And if you can balance atmosphere and intensity as well as WitTR have proven they can, it’s a step backward and a bit of a cheat to only focus on one of those aspects.

    Of course, the Pabstcore kids will eat this album up, as they are obliged to praise metal releases that don’t contain any metal. (No offense if you are in the minority who can genuinely enjoy the music here.) For the rest of us, maybe this is just a one-off “experiment”?


  4. Commented by: AR

    “Of course, the Pabstcore kids will eat this album up, as they are obliged to praise metal releases that don’t contain any metal. (No offense if you are in the minority who can genuinely enjoy the music here).”

    Yeah, I agree with ya there. I’m certainly in the minority you listed and I do genuinely enjoy this, but, I wished they had maybe changed their name because it is gonna cause quite a rift in their fan base and alienate lots of folks. Weird thing is, I wasn’t a huge fan of their style originally but am loving this stuff. It sounds like what would happen if Tangerine Dream, Sunn O))) and Lustmord tried their hand at Blade Runner-style music. Which is not a bad thing, imho.

    For the record I like both Neptune Towers’ records.

    As a dark ambient/drone record I give it an 8.5/10
    As a black metal record, uh, no comment.


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