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Wolves In The Throne Room – Diadem Of 12 Stars

Artemisia

Wolves In The Throne Room - Diadem Of 12 StarsLong out of print and originally put out in 2006 by small DIY label Vendlus, then emerging on Southern Lord a year later, Diadem Of 12 Stars has now been remastered and re-released on Wolves In The Throne Room‘s own Artemisia Records.

Bringing a Cascadian eco-anarchist sensibility to the resurgent BM scene, Diadem Of 12 Stars lacks for nothing in the scorching dual guitars of Nathan Weaver and Rick Dahlin, while lashings of Aaron Weaver‘s tumbling, battering percussion churns and uncurl in fearsome, blasting bounds of energy across the album’s four sides — naturally enough also available pressed on “green mist”-coloured as well as black vinyl. Often simultaneously exhausting and invigorating, while also demonstrating that the group are fully capable of reining in their musical energies, this is the sound of a band setting out their particular version of how harder, faster and louder can also become greener, if not necessarily meaner.

Revelling in the lineage of bands such as Emperor, Darkthrone and Ulver with their reverence for the similarly pine-bedecked mountains of Scandinavia, Diadem Of 12 Stars was the first recorded outing for Wolves In The Throne Room’s particular take on black metal. While they may share a similar kindred feeling for the freedom and majesty symbolised by pristine peaks and rain-soaked forests, WITTR are not so much the church-burning kind as the sort of eco-metallers to be found celebrating the wild woods as their temples to nature or thrashing away at a pitch-dark squat party.

This they achieve through the medium of metal as dense and unyielding as the undergrowth that climbs the ancient misted hillsides into the cloud layer. On Diadem Of 12 Stars, they explicitly took a stance, shifting the often — but, it must be said, not universally — unsavoury and nihilistic worldviews all too often associated with the BM scene over the last two decades into more progressive directions.

Difficult as the words are (actually, impossible might be a better term here) to discern, Jamie Myers‘ (Hammers Of Misfortune, Like Flies On Flesh, Sabbath Assembly) guest vocals bring an often nuanced melodicism to the otherwise fearsome yowls and guttural screams of Nathan, Dahlin and occasionally Dino Sommese (of Ghoul, DystopiaAsunder and Noothgrush), the four singers interweaving impassioned tongue-wrenching acrobatics, vomiting forth of streams of raised vocal consciousness with all the venomous fire of their Nordic musical ancestors fully intact.

There are also moments that wouldn’t seem out of place alongside the likes of Swans or Neurosis — both cited as influences — as the regurgitative, earthbound fury of guitars and drums wriggles free into airborne spires, as exemplified by the cascading waterfall depicted on the album sleeve (the photos have also been redeveloped from the original negatives for this re-release). The music raises upwards, elevated through the power of a joyful, essentially positive noise, controlled explosions of raw spirit and visceral intensity. Riffing switchbacks allow for some respite, bringing the rhythmic pounding back to a slower doomy intensity, letting the grime settle down into almost pleasantly echoed — but still lightly distorted — pastorales before swinging back with redoubled purpose.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the choppy meanders of the closing twenty-minute title track, the guitars flanged and flowing; though Wolves In The Throne Room hold back their energies for one more bounding course through those primal metal screams, allowing themselves some hardcore riffing en route. Here, it’s easiest to bring to mind the almost utterly overwhelming, internal-organ trembling immensity of their live shows as the track unfolds into a faded out rush for the treeline.

-Antron S Meister-

 

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