When I first started this Friday Tunes blog back in May, the first album I picked was the rather excellent ‘Sunbather’ by Deafheaven. That album is definitely one of the best things I’ve heard so far this year, and as I mentioned before it’s also another sign of black metal’s continued evolution. Sure, the corpse paint and spikes still exist, but it would be impossible to deny the genre’s progression over the past few years as it draws in outside influences and other musical styles. One of the strongest proponents for what I suppose could be deemed ‘modern black metal’ are Olympia, Washington’s Wolves In The Throne Room.
Formed in 2003, the band has become one of the leading examples of the genre over the course of four studio albums. Their second LP, 2007’s ‘Two Hunters’, is an excellent example of what the band does best. Spread over just four tracks, nothing is wasted here and you’re presented with a distilled version of WITTR’s unique mix of black metal and ambient music. Opening track ‘Dea Artio’ starts off as a collage of nature sounds before building towards a powerful crescendo. This sets the stage for second track ‘Vastness and Sorrow’ to kick into full gear with some of the genre’s trademarks (double kick drum, shredding guitar etc.). The nature sounds I mentioned on the first track are integral to what Wolves In The Throne Room are about. The band members live on a self-sustaining farm in rural Washington, actually living the idealised ‘back to nature’ life that so many brands' lookbooks attempt to convey. Eco concerns play a major part in what the band are about; think of it as black metal more concerned with sustainable farming as opposed to burning churches to the ground.
I was lucky enough to catch Wolves In The Throne Room live a couple of summers ago at ATP in London. The tracks off of this record that they played sounded just as powerful live. With literally zero talking and just a few candles illuminating the stage (how cvlt!), the band let the music speak for itself. That’s what I’d advise you to do too. Cast aside any assumptions you might have about black metal and just dive in!