Wolves in the Throne Room
19th September 2017 – Artemisia Records
01. Born from the Serpent’s Eye
02. The Old Ones Are With Us
04. Mother Owl, Father Ocean
05. Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon
Wolves in the Throne Room suffer the side-effect of being wildly influential; there are stacks of bands trying to do a slight variation on their signature sound, which has become one of the defining influences behind the blackgaze/post-black metal explosion. Fortunately, WITTR have an excellent grasp of their sound and change their presentation accordingly for each new record – and Thrice Woven is another step in their continued development.
Thrice Woven marks a division from their previous material, being much more openly diverse. Frequent breaks in songs and spoken-word passages help break up the heavy ambience for which WITTR are famous, and which is still a prominent feature. Some haunting female vocals from Anna von Hausswolff are dotted around the record, giving it a ghostly, folky feel. Similarly, the harvest narration in “The Old Ones Are With Us” features Steve Von Till from Neurosis, borrowing from their established sound but strongly in the vein of Wolves in the Throne Room’s farming community aesthetic. There’s some familiar stuff here for sure, but a lot of this is new ground.
I’m keen on the risks that WITTR have taken; Celestite featured some solid ambience and did an uncanny job of predicting the Stranger Things synth boom, but lacked a lot of punch and direction. Thrice Woven sparkles with new ideas and purpose, and it’s one of their busier offerings. There’s a big jump from Celestite too; here, the record has more of a black metal edge and isn’t afraid to show its teeth. The riffs are dynamic and fluid with a shimmering undercurrent. Celestite has actually dated really well given that it pre-empted the Stranger Things Microkorg explosion, but there’s a lot more on here that one would associate with the golden-era Wolves in the Throne Room, and a return to the diversity and lush aggression that attracted so many in the first place.
For anyone underwhelmed by the meandering Celestite or a little overwhelmed by the ever-expanding crop of post black metal, this record will fill that void nicely. This is particularly gratifying given the long winters between records and the focus that Thrice Woven clearly exhibits.
Wolves in the Throne Room don’t feel like they’re on the cutting-edge exactly, but Thrice Woven feels like a explorative, diverse effort which isn’t hampered by them trying to stay relevant. This record sounds like the band adapting to other artists who have been influenced by them but focussed through their own lens, showcasing that Wolves in the Throne Room can adapt to new influences as well as remaining true to their original sound.