Wolves in the Throne Room
Diadem of 12 Stars

People, pay attention. What we have here is a very, very special US Black Metal record, a landmark even. While Wrest has been sucking up all the USBM glory with his well-deserved plethora of EPs and splits, no band has truly challenged the USMB throne occupied by Leviathan. Until Now.While most USBM seem to try to rip off Leviathan’s stark, disturbing, suicidal tones Washington three piece Wolves in the Throne Room are content to only give Leviathan a brief nod as they forge a far more epic and elegant, yet still grim treatise on black metal that conjures up a far more classic early ’90s, European tone and presence. Four songs, 60 minutes, one hypnotic, transcendental and draining journey into harsh yet beautiful textures and ambience.

Whereas Wrest relies on psychotic builds and sampled intros to build palatable moods, WITTR rely more in the actual structures, peaks and valley of their songs to carry the atmosphere. The primal, yet eloquent guitars and furious rasps are often contrasted by ghost like female vocals, courtesy of Jamie Myers from Hammers of Misfortune (“Queen of the Borrowed Light”) , undulating acoustics and segues of softer hues (“Face in a Night Time Mirror-pt 1”), foreboding droning (“Face in a Night Time Mirror-pt 2”) and even ultimately a rending, almost doom like crawl (“A Shimmering Radiance-Diadem of 12 Stars”).

Either way, the compositional variety within songs is spellbinding, evocative and often superbly placed. The frosty, glistening riffage and contrasting ethereal vocals of “Queen of the Borrowed Light” are subliminally beautiful. The jarring, on a dime shift at 3:24 in “A Shimmering Radiance-Diadem of 12 Stars” from hazy unearthly acoustic beats to blistering black metal is overwhelming, as is the shift back to sludgy, oozing menace in the tracks heaving latter stages and the eventual breath taking climax (it is a 20 minute affair). The track is sheer brilliance.

It would appear the US has a new black metal vanguard in WITTR, as they have picked up the torch that Weakling briefly carried and with this release the band have almost effortlessly caught the US up to speed with their European counterparts.

Completely and totally awe-inspiring.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
April 20th, 2006

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