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Wolves In The Throne Room - Black Cascade CD (album) cover


Wolves In The Throne Room


Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.49 | 30 ratings

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3 stars Black Cascade is the second release Wolves in the Throne Room treats us to in the barely started 2009. The band has always been pretty productive and has not left us a year without a Wolves release. After hearing the Malevolent Grain EP I was expecting two things. A Looming Resonance made me expect some different, more avant-garde stuff and Hate Crystal made me trust that there was going to be some awesome black metal of great quality. Let's see if my anticipations were correct.

Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog: The opening track starts out just like Hate Crystal, with immediate vocal and instrumental violence bashing through your speakers. What I like best about this song is the atmosphere, the black metal feeling, the dark sound it has to it from beginning till end. Later on it progresses into a slower, atmospheric part, just to be followed by an awesome faster part with nice and speedy repetitive guitar riffs. You will notice that this formula will be used more throughout the album. The song ends in a pleasant drone, probably with a smile from Southern Lord.

Ahrimanic Trance: This one also immediately brings you into the black metal atmosphere we all seek. It features some incredible vocal work. It is not very complex, but nevertheless fairly satisfying. Around the five minute mark there is a part which I find a bit messy (but not too much). This flows into a short ambient part and then returns to the up-tempo drumming and guitar playing. This turns into a great harmony between atmospheric and fast instrumentation and raw, powerful shrieks. The last four minutes consist of a slower part with repetitive guitars and loud drums. It sounds okay and evil, but is the second weak part of this song, which is a pity.

Ex Cathedra: This track starts out pretty weak instrumentally, though Nathan provides us with some nice sick vocals. It gets better later on, with some nice rough parts, interrupted by weaker ambient parts. The ending is awesome, I must admit, but this is still the weakest track on the album and (with the exception of the last minutes) really misses "feeling" to it.

Crystal Ammunition: The last track starts out nicely and becomes more brutal as it goes. This gets interrupted by a soothing instrumental part, that suddenly returns to the rough drumming and riffing. Later on the ambient and rough part synthesize around the ten minute mark with very nice results. The album ends with an ambient part supported by some heavy drones.

This is overall a nice album, but not the quality I'm used to from Wolves. After hearing Hate Crystal on the Malevolent Grain EP I expected another brilliant full length. This seemed to be the case when the album opened with Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, but this is immediately the top track on the album. Ahrimanic Trance is decent and at some moments great, but features some weaker parts and Ex Cathedra is just plain average. Luckily Crystal Ammunition makes up for the previous two tracks, but overall I'd say this is an okay release, something I'm not used to from the band that brought us masterpieces as Diadem of 12 Stars and Two Hunters and which has been one of my favorite black metal bands ever. If this would have been another band, I might have given it a higher rating.

A plus point is the consistently great vocal work on the album. On the flip side: sometimes, as in Ex Cathedra, the ambient parts are out of place and of mediocre quality. It also bothers me that the tracks feature too much superfluous outro. Finally, it misses the overall "feeling" that the previous album had and which every black metal album should have. Atmospheric metal albums should have a distinct atmosphere as a whole and Black Cascade misses this. Let us hope that they'll set the bar a little higher next year.

disastercasper | 3/5 |


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