Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage
It's been about 4 or 5 years since I lasted visited in with Wolves In The Throne Room and, over that time, I had quite honestly forgotten about them. But there was a time (just check my Two Hunters review) when I was quite stuck on their sound. An earthy, atmospheric blend of black metal and the occasional dose of folk. It has a very ethereal, spiritual effect for those who can patiently navigate the lengthy passages and repetitive, swirling riff patterns that make up songs that typically take up 10 or more minutes a pop. Celestial Lineage offers up much more of the same foundational sound the band has mapped, but it does so in more refined and cleaner mannerisms.
"Thuja Magus Imperium" begins with a softly sung intro, operatic female leads blending in with a quiet musical interlude. The heart of the song builds upon an upward-soaring riff and what I consider to be the band's most important asset; steady, pounding percussioin. The drums seem to take on an elemental nature when you listen to Wolves. The back-half of this track is marvelous, epic, and yet understated and classy. "Permanent Changes in Consciousness" is a symbolic interlude, with subdued chanting overlapped with quiet, mysterious recorded sound effects. "Subterranean Initiation" blasts forward quite forcefully, but tells it's true story when the song shifts into more of a mid-paced builder. I frankly cannot tell you what's going on in the interlude "Rainbow Illness", but I do know it kinda freaks me out and adds plenty to the overall atmosphere. "Woodland Cathedral" has a beautiful, pagan feel to it, the sound of a ritualistic and spritual reckoning deep in the heart of a desolate forest. "Astral Blood" saves the best riffs of the album for it's 11+ minutes of pure black metal bliss, and whatever you do, don't listen to "Prayer of Transformation" alone. One of the darkest and most sinsister-sounding things I've ever heard, like the backdrop to a nightmare you cannot even begin to fathom.
What seperates Wolves In The Throne Room, time and again, from their black metal peers is a trueness in the atmosphere they conjure, in the imagery they spawn. Their sound is about as natural and acoustic as you can get without truly being unplugged. I am hardly surprised to hear them managing to push their sound just enough to develop a different experience on Celestial Lineage. Another solitary masterstroke in a discography that has never really lacked quality or substance.
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