“Black Cascade” by Wolves in the Throne Room

Album: Black Cascade
Artist: Wolves in the Throne Room

Black Cascade is Wolves in the Throne Room’s third full length album, a mixture of hefty atmosphere and dizzying black metal. I’m not a big listener of black metal. The extreme end of the metal spectrum has never been of interest to me and musically was one of the things I was least likely to listen to. So it came to much of my surprise that I was able to enjoy Black Cascade to an extent, and I will give the boys from Olympia, Washington their brownie points for that. There were a few things about the album that bugged me, and may be black metal staples so forgive me if something I don’t care for fits in with the standard for the genre.

Black Cascade starts off kicking into high gear, with the colossal opening track Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. The 10 minute long greeting clouds the view with whirling guitar work, throaty, scratching vocals and intense drumwork. From the very start, the mood is thick, oppressive but vaguely spiritual. The guitars have a haunting tonal quality that allow one to visualize them as the fog. A voice echos off of the trees, and while indecipherable gives off the impression of a lost soul desperately trying to call out to something that may hear it in its final moments. You’re trapped in this nightmare, but you’re almost reassured that everything will be fine. The remainder of the album’s 3 tracks (none going under the 10 minute mark) contain a similar otherworldly warmth. My biggest issue is the almost cartoony use of the snare drum, which breaks the wall of atmosphere just enough to irritate me. The times in which Aaron Weaver does not use the snare are my favorite moments of the album as his performance is otherwise perfectly fine.

Wolves in the Throne Room are known more for their unusual politics and radical environmentalism. When I was doing some reading up on the group I found that this was often a topic that many who reported on them concentrated on. And while they may have an extreme view, it should not cloud their ability as musicians any further. They do a good enough job of covering their music with a wall of sound that if you worry too much about their politics you may miss the music almost entirely. Clocking in at almost 50 minutes, there is plenty here to absorb but it may not be as accessible for others who do not want to sit through 15 minute long pieces. This is most certainly an album to crank up the volume for, or put on a pair of really good headphones and close your eyes as the forest envelopes you for an hour. Just let nature take its course.

Wolves in the Throne Room Official Myspace

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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