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Wolves In The Throne Room - Primordial Arcana CD (album) cover


Wolves In The Throne Room


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.00 | 6 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Black metal bands come and go and seem a dime a dozen these days but once in a while there are trailblazers who take the metal world on a completely new journey. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM was once such the trailblazer by taking the atmospheric black metal of the 1990s and mixing it with dark ambient, progressive electronic and long drawn out compositions styles that emulated post-rock and even progressive rock. Led by brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver, the band put the USA's Northwest on the map as a viable contender for Scandinavian nature worshipping black metal acts and made it clear that the region was not just about grunge!

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM cranked out four excellent albums in the aforementioned hybridized stylistic approach but then 2011's "Celestial Lineage" dabbled in blackgaze and with the following "Celestite" pretty much abandoned the metal aspects altogether in favor of an electronic space ambient album with only traces of drone metal. This did not go over well with fans and the band has sort of been licking its wounds ever since and although WITTR returned in 2017 with the excellent "Thrice Woven," so many new bands had come onto the scene that it seemed that this band sort of sputtered out of the race.

Oh how finicky metal fans can be! Four years later WOLVES returns with its ninth overall studio album PRIMORDIAL ARCANA and makes a welcome return to the full-on atmospheric black metal from the past. While some are crying retrograde and others are castigating the band for backpedaling and relying too much on its past glories rather than innovation, the truth is WOLVES needed to re-establish itself as the atmospheric black metal band that it once was if it wanted to remain relevant in the black metal game. In recent years all sorts of metal bands ranging from Leprous, Haken and The Ruins of Beverast just to name a few have toned down their metal ferocity and in the process have alienated quite a few fans although they surely must have gained some new ones.

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM has suffered like many a popular band trying to experiment outside of their fanbase comfort zone but by no means has cranked out anything utterly unlistenable in its entire canon. PRIMORDIAL ARCANA reestablishes WOLVES as a viable atmospheric black metal band that deftly integrates the dungeon synth and electronic sounds into its Pagan black metal world which tackles eight atmospheric tracks that enjoy a sleek silky production as the mid-tempo compositions slink along alternating between the melodic keyboard hooks and the thundering guitar riffs and blastbeats. You know, the very stuff that made albums like "Diadem of 12 Stars" and "Two Hunters" stand out amongst the rest of the pack. However it's not 2006-07 any longer and a new legion of black metal bands have taken things to even stranger and more innovative pastures and that's exactly where PRIMORDIAL ARCANA falters.

There seems to be an opinion by many that unless any given band changes its sound or evolves in some way that the entire process is an utter waste of time. Well true that some bands that recycle an album for over 20 years are completely boring to my ears, the truth is that when a band like WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM never really exhausted the magnanimous bounty of their developed sound then it's actually not a bad thing to retread and recapture those moments that worked so well. It's even more amazing that WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM has been able to work its way back to over a decade and recapture the inspiration that made that period so innovative. While PRIMORDIAL ARCANA won't win any awards for most creative or innovative album of the year, i do have to say that this is indeed an enjoyable slice of atmospheric black metal emphasizes the band's strengths that have been proven to be a winning formula.

To my ears this is an excellent album that delivers everything you would expect from an icy cold Pagan black metal that emphasizes atmospheric ambience over all else and the compositions are tight and brilliantly laid out as well. Somehow despite a misstep with "Celestial" (which probably should've been released as an EP), WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM is like the Olympic gymnast who falls flat on his/her face only to get up and dazzle the audience with unexpected resilience. While it's easy to criticize any given act for taking the easy way out and taking the path of least resistance, i have to wonder why anybody would consider retreading a brilliant blend of progressive black metal with electronic nuances an easy task to repeat. This album is simply flawless in its execution and will yield many return listens unlike some of the band's most recent albums.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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