Emerging from the dense woods of Olympia, WA, eco-conservationist black metallers Wolves In The Throne Room aren’t your average bunch of corpse paint-and-leather-studded jumpsuit wearing metal heads. Their majestic and skewed take on their chosen genre’s aesthetics alone separates them from both the one-man USBM scene as well as Europe’s slightly more eccentric BM hordes, but when you take into consideration that the band live communally in a (nearly) self-sustained compound deep in the forests of Washington and that they’ve openly spoken out against the vast majority of their peers (for their materialistic/consumerist ways) they’re even more of an anomaly.
The trio’s second album, Two Hunters, is a journey of revelation and salvation through black metal that takes the lugubrious expanses that marked their debut Diadem of 12 Stars and drags them through pools of crystal clear spring water, emerging purified on the other side of the mountain. While they’re universally hailed in BM circles, the band are anything but classicists, integrating field recordings, Scandinavian folk and post-rock architecture into their perplexing mÃ©lange of disparate textures and visceral emotion. While this makes them an easy target for purists, some of whom have already decided to cast them aside, the unrelenting power and earthen grace they exude gives more than enough reasons to skin up the rulebook and start anew.
“Dia Artio” (which alludes to the Gallo-Roman Goddess of the Bear) opens Two Hunters in cinematic fashion, a slow-burning march towards the end of the world fades out amid the bracing, funereal darkness of the breathtaking “Vastness and Sorrow” rises from the ashes, its sullen aire quickly and violently ruptured by an army of blast-beats and locust-swarm guitars. The “clean” vocals of Jessica Kinney are a gorgeous counterpart to the carnivorous screech of Rick Dahlin as “Cleansing” wafts it way through the blackened night, eventually exploding into a full gallop in its final moments. Nearly twenty-minute album closer “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots” is a mini symphony, burying movements of gauzy My Bloody Valentine loveliness inside ferocious guitar-swells of Emperor-size proportions, finally culminating in a feverish coda that topples man and beast alike with its epic splay. In the simplest terms, they’re Satyricon by way of Sigur Ros, but if their canon thus far is anything to go on, change is the only constant they’re likely to adhere to.
Much like Opeth a decade before them, WITTR are turning the world of BM on its ear, and proving that, while some of their peers choose to sit alone in windowless rooms with 4-tracks doing their best Burzum imitation, they simply burn too brightly to not reach toward the light and take a piece of the sun for themselves, whether they choose to keep it or not.