There’s something ancient, lost and undeniably Pagan about the opening bars of Wolves In The Throne Room’s (WITTR) latest album, Celestial Lineage, despite the trademark proggy synths.
The farm-dwelling black metal band from Olympia, Washington, have always channelled their surroundings, and listening to Celestial Lineage certainly gives you the urge to stand atop a rugged peak with the wind throwing your hair across your visage. You’d probably want to lift your arms out in a Jesus Christ pose at one point too. And maybe trace your fingers in the dust to check for animal prints. And you’d definitely be wearing a druid cape.
But apart from really liking forests and mountains, these guys play some heavy riffs, often accompanied by a lot of thunderous double-pedal bass drum. I haven’t got a clue what they sing about on this album, because the vocals are delivered straight from the back of singer Nathan Weaver’s throat. In fact, the words barely touch the sides of his throat – they’re just sort of flung out from somewhere near his solar plexus.
The song titles don’t give much away either. I suppose ‘Rainbow Illness’ is some sort of analogy for climate change, and ‘Woodland Cathedral’ is about how the forest is magical and lovely. I can’t really be sure, but then that’s part of the fun. WITTR is a band shrouded in mystery, and they stand by their concept vehemently. You can’t really blame them – they’ve built up a devoted following as a result of their carefully-managed image.
The stand-out parts of this album are Jessika Kenney’s beautifully rich and haunting vocals (on opener ‘Thuja Magus Imperium’ and the closing of ‘Woodland Cathedral’) and the classic thrash stylings of ‘Subterranean Initiation’. The band are significant players in both the black metal genre and their label, Southern Lord, and their fourth album hasn’t disappointed fans or critics. If you need convincing of the weight this band carries, WITTR will be playing All Tomorrow’s Parties in London this May, alongside Slayer, Melvins, Mudhoney, Codeine and curators Mogwai.
Words : Joseph McArthur Field
About the author: Joseph writes for several publications, including his own Tumblr.