Wolves in the Throne Room – Diadem of 12 Stars and Two Hunters

diadem coverAs mentioned in the Om review, I can’t even really be bothered to start giving a crap about authentic musical forms. It’s far too tiring. I mean, I’ve got a 401(k) (well, 403(b) actually) and all that. I’ve got to do my taxes next week! I’ve only got room for “good” and “ungood” in my life right now. I don’t have time to worry about whose true authentic satanic black metal wodan warlord blah blah blah blah…see? I don’t even have the strength to parody this correctly.

So instead I will make everyone mad and say Wolves in the Throne Room reminds me of Explosions in the Sky if that band had balls and a more “metal” pedigree. I was surprised to like these two albums as much as I do – my initial unfavorable impressions of Sunn actually scared me off of the Southern Lord roster almost entirely, which is unfortunate.

Bigotry hurts us all.

So yeah, this is kinda epic stuff here. The first LP release, Diadem of 12 Stars, is quite pretty. Honestly, I see a lot more of the post-post-post-rock influence in these works than anything metal – even the shrieky vocals are buried beneath all riffage and drummage and whatnot. Maybe I’m projecting due to a severe allergy to the idea of anyone, anywhere wearing corpsepaint for any reason, much less the tardly outfits.

Anyhoo, while “pretty” may not be the most “metal” adjective, that’s what we’re stuck with. Flouncing around from crescendo to valley and back again, there’s little stop-offs along the way; some very nice acoustic and ambient moments, screamy-growly throaty throw up noises – pretty much everything but a drum solo. All of the songs are over the ten minute mark, and while they all sort of do the same general thing, Diadem doesn’t feel like anything other than a bunch of tight musicians constantly moving towards the same point, even as they clock up near the 20 minute mark. Regardless of style, that’s always a good feeling. I’ll bet no one in particular that I could probably sell this band to nearly anyone I know who has spent any time on the Constellation or even Kranky side of post-post-goose-rock. twohunters cover

Their second album on Southern Lord Records is far shorter, but also more adventurous. The opening track – “Dia Artio” – has that fuzzy anthem quality recalling some of the more majestic moments of f#a# infinity rather than a bunch of kids who took Dungeons & Dragons and/or the myths of a long-dead civilization far too seriously. People are fond of calling anything that’s either long or uplifting “epic” but, yeah, ok this is kinda epic stuff here. We’re going somewhere, and it’s gonna take a while.

After breaking things up with a more traditionally “metal” track, the third entry out of four, “Cleansing,” brings in some droney female vocals and a few – dare we say it? – prog flourishes; it’s a nice match to the opener, even when it splits apart halfway through into a crashing, screaming race.

The last track is called “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks” and is what spurred me to go pick up their stuff without hearing any other bits of it. It was a gamble, but the sample on the Southern Lord site (which is about a third of the entire 18 minute track) convinced me to take a chance. I’m glad I did, since as I’ve mentioned about a dozen times now, the whole general presentation of all things black metal basically makes me sad. But don’t let bigotry ruin your lives as it clearly has mine.

I’m contractually* obligated to end this piece by saying “godspeed, you black metal emperors.”

www.southernlord.com || myspace

*I am a freelance asshole. Available for parties!

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