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When premier American black metallers Wolves in the Throne Room released Celestite in 2014, the near-ambient companion to 2011's mighty Celestial Lineage, many fans and critics thought they'd left black metal behind due to its formless constructions created almost solely from synthesizers -- even though the band itself explained it was a companion to its predecessor. Thrice Woven re-engages with blackness, full signature riffs, epic tunes, and tales of pagan nature worship that established Wolves in the Throne Room's identity. This is a return to the pummeling, multi-layered power that made 2009's Black Cascade a masterpiece. Touring guitarist Kody Keyworth joins Nathan and Aaron Weaver as a full-time member; his signature here is felt as well as heard. This set also features guest spots from Sweden's Anna Von Hausswolff and Neurosis' Steve Von Till. Opener "Born from the Serpent's Eye" commences with mysterious acoustic guitars that give way to mournful, buzzing black metal guitars, continuous blastbeats, and synths before Nathan's thoroughly unclean vocals shatter the mix. The Wall of Sound is so dense it's transcendent; after a brief breakdown, a second set of riffs drives the tune into a roaring maelstrom of sonic assault. Another dimension is added with a bridge in which Von Hausswolff sings in Swedish in a lengthy interlude before the guitars storm back in, albeit with a slower processional tempo. Von Till intones the lyrics to "The Old Ones Are with Us," which begins as a dark, droning folk song and asserts itself as gloriously dense Finnish-style doom, though synths abound, replacing the guitars as dominant in the mix. It feels like Wolves in the Throne Room are hedging their bets, hesitant to give up reliance on the synths to provide multidimensionality over rawness. That sonic density, with instruments and atmospheres layered over and over again, haunt the first single "Angrboda," titled for a mythical Norse frost giantess who birthed Fenris Wolf, a beast destined to destroy the world and murder the gods. The song works, but becomes a smear of sound more than an identifiable song after a few minutes. "Mother Earth, Father Ocean" is a somber, two-and-a-half-minute interlude featuring Von Hausswolff and Turkish harpist Zeynep Oyku. It underscores the loss and heartbreak in the lyrics of the preceding tune and foreshadows closer "Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon." The latter is rife with buzzing guitars, truckloads of reverb, blastbeats, and droning atmospherics. As a bookend, it celebrates nature's mysterious cycle of birth and destruction as new forms emerge on earth and in the night skies from eternity to eternity. The sounds of roaring fires and insane drumming alternate with segments of wolves' howling, chanted, droning voices, wind, and thunderstorms before a doomy blackened riff emerges signaling another segment that becomes its own dirge-like doom procession. Eventually, the pace quickens and unhinged black metal breaks through, closing the set with a profound sense of drama. Thrice Woven marks the welcome return of the power and dark majesty of one America's most original metal bands.
Performance CreditsWolves in the Throne Room Primary Artist
Steve Von Till Acoustic Guitar,Vocals
Phil Petrocelli Percussion
Don McGreevy Acoustic Guitar
Anna von Hausswolff Vocals
Nathan Weaver Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Zeynep Oyku Yilmaz Harp
Kody Keyworth Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Aaron Weaver Synthesizer,Drums,Group Member
Technical CreditsRandall Dunn Producer,Engineer
Wolves in the Throne Room Producer,Engineer,Art Direction
Jack Shirley Engineer
Denis Forkas Cover Art