|Key Release: Two Hunters (2007)|
American black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room have come under some fire for shunning the cult roots of their genre, but really, their brand of black metal – played by firelight on vintage amps – isn’t so different from Emperor and Ulver’s pagan aesthetics. In fact, Wolves’ quartet of albums are about as black metal as it gets, as they blast and shriek through albums full of ten-minute epics about returning to nature, occult mythos, and stories of post-apocalyptic landscapes.
At Wolves in the Throne Room’s core are brothers Nathan Weaver (guitar, vocals) and Aaron Weaver (drums). Living on a self-sustaining farm in Olympia, Washington, they formed Wolves in 2003 and wrote the band’s first two songs in a forest. Since then, Wolves in the Throne Room have become one of the leading US black metal acts, releasing four well-received LP’s, including 2007’s seminal Two Hunters. Combining the onslaught of thrumming tremolo riffs with gorgeous acoustic pieces and the soprano voice of Jessica Kinney, the band sits comfortably alongside acts such as Agalloch in the avant-garde metal scene.
Wolves’ live performances are all about channeling emotions and luring the audience into a meditative state; Aaron has gone so far as to say he wants people to “lay on the floor and cry” during the shows. The songs each contain several parts, from the soaring climax of “Vastness and Sorrow” to the trance-like introduction of “Cleansing”, making their albums feel like epic journeys through desolate worlds and beautiful landscapes. Indeed, the band cites post-metal giants Neurosis as an inspiration for how their music “operates on a deep and intense mythical level”. Wolves’ music is a very personal experience; there is no fist-pumping, there are no mosh pits, only your mind and the places – majestic, bleak, burned and reborn, that the music takes it.