Album Review: Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
Release Date: 22 September 2017
Label: Artemisia Records
Continuing to push Black Metal to the boundaries Thrice Woven is Washington natives Wolves in the Throne Room (WitTR) epic sixth album and showcase the band in the middle of a period of change. Black Metal is often seen as an elitist, one dimensional and difficult genre, yet for every leather clad ‘TRVE CVLT’ satanic purist, you have bands like Alcest, Liturgy, or WitTR who arguably spearheaded the trend of US Black Metal. Excelling at pushing the sonic, atmospheric and lyrical limits of extreme metal to it’s very boundaries, these bands blur genres and annoy purists along the way. Although this album is a lot closer to the bands roots than last album Celestite’s ambient drone, the production, atmosphere, choral interludes, and genre bending in the record pushes it beyond traditional Black metal sounds. Despite this, at times the album seems lost, either it focuses too much on atmosphere and loses out on musicality, or vocals, drum tracks and furious guitars are so interwoven that each piece becomes lost.
Opening track Born from the Serpent’s Eye opens with a short acoustic segment before ripping into an aggressive blast beat and tremolo fueled frenzy. Yet as we approach the half way point the aggression clears and we hear the first of the few sections to feature Swedish musician Anna Von Hausswolff who’s ethereal voice pierces through at several moments throughout the album. These clean vocals provide a serene calmness to an album that even in its least aggressive sections still contain an unrelenting sense of urgency. The Old Ones Are With Us continues the album with a spoken word piece by Steve Von Till of legendary metal band Neurosis. Alluding to themes of global change the song rips through several musically varied sections, flowing from genre to genre.
However, it’s songs like this that make you wish each section was a whole track of Thrash infused Black Metal or spoken-word drone instead of a mish mash of inspirations to make songs that push close to the ten-minute mark. Third track Angrboda marks the half way point of the album and is perhaps the most straightforward Black Metal song in Thrice Woven. Named after mythical Norse giantess Angrboda translates directly as ‘the one who brings grief’ and certainly lives up to it’s name. A relentless epic, the track is mostly vocal less relying instead on manic blast beats and classic Black Metal riffs but also featuring a simplistic theme intricately woven throughout the song, from the aggressive majority right down to the Burzum-esque atmospheric interlude. Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon is the albums last ‘proper’ song (there’s a short atmospheric choral track prior) and at over eleven minutes its longest. Again, the track is an amalgamation of WitTR’s past works with it’s now familiar, and perhaps a little repetitive formula of breakneck riffs into soothing atmospherics before returning to the metal.
On Thrice Woven WitTR have combined all of their past experiences into one abum. For the most part, this works; delivering a ferocious Black Metal album resplendent with gravel voiced vocals, ferocious guitar work and pounding drums. The album also succeeds in looking past the genre, with its beautiful guest vocals, and use of electronic ambience create an atmosphere that only WitTR know how to create. However, at times each of these positives get lost within one another, be it a track that chops and changes too much, or usually excellently produced vocals getting lost within a very full mix. And when the band have shown just how well they can craft and produce songs it is unfortunately a shame.
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