I really hate Black Metal.
Its the sterile, muddy sound. The Corpse Paint, the crappy leather clothes, the satanic, pagan fad. I hate all of that. I hate how Black Metal is so damn dark and depressing. I hate how every single Black Metal song sounds practically the same; endless droning, buzz saw guitars, muddled blast-beat infused drums, absent bass guitar, and a singer that tries his hardest to sound like a scorched earth goblin. But most of all, I hate the poor production values of Black Metal. Somewhere along the line, people thought it cool to purposefully make their music sound crappy, like it was recorded on some old Tascam 4-track tape machine in the midst of a forest: oooh so kvlt! Sometimes I get the feeling that most black metal bands use this sort of bad production to cover up poor musicianship and rather uninspired writing. Why else are the vocals buried deep within the mix? Why do most black metal bands only play 3 to 4 chords, rinse repeat? How come the drummer can only play blast beats?
While mysticism and spirituality are favorite topics of mine, most Black Metal bands border on the uber-ridiculous. This is not the case with Washington based band Wolves in the Throne Room. They really have something behind their music; they are radical environmentalists who till the land. Yep, they live on a farm where they are practicing a self-sustaining lifestyle with minimal contact with technology. Their music encompasses the death of our current societies, and the birth of a new world, a world that harks back to the days of old, the days before all of our endless life draining technology. Forget corpse paint and an all black leather, spiked outfits; Richard Dahlen, Nathan Weaver and brother Aaron Weaver are not such trivial people. Eschewing the traditional Black Metal attire for a more minimal approach (save for dark hoods...gotta have dark hoods), these guys look a like regular folk.
"Diadem of 12 Stars" is a rather dark, bleak and droning lament on the darkness of humanities ignorance of Earth, of Nature, of their own destructive nature. The music is very much Black Metal nonsense, but there is actually a true message behind it. Humanity is taking a huge dump over the Earth, we are using up all of its natural resources without a care, we are raping and pillaging like our masculine-dominant ancestors, the hell-spawn of the Industrial revolution.
Wolves in the Throne Room's music reflects the pain, anger, hatred of our current status, and the hope and belief that one day things WILL change. The apocalypse will come and the Earth will be anew. These concepts are brought to fruition on 'Diadem of the 12 Stars", a sonic lament of monstrous proportions.
Since their music is all about Gaia's anger toward a self-destruction and nihilistic humanity, you can expect painful, tortured vocals (much in the same vein as the goblin screeching of typical Black Metal bands) and evil, brooding melodies. I still can't stand Black Metal, but with such a great message as the one backed by Wolves in the Throne Room, its hard to hate on them. This album is very tedious for me to listen through, "Diadem..." is comprised of 4 tracks that stretch well over the 10 minute mark. Yet they throw in a minimal amount of change-ups and clean vocals that its somewhat bearable.
Yes, Wolves in the Throne Room sound just like practically every other Black Metal band who claims such moniker, yet make no mistake, they do not speak highly of their corpse painted, leather clad, satanic, nihilistic peers. Nor do they uphold any of their beliefs. In fact, Wolves come off more like a bunch of dirty hippies rather than Black Metal heads, and one might even wonder what business they have in the art of dark magics and pagan worship. Vocalist Richard Dahlen claims that they only embody the powerful, raw energy of Black Metal, but care not for its trivial nature. Basically, they take what they want from the genre, and filter out all of the crap.
"Diadem of 12 Stars" is a decent album that draws from Black Metal, Doom Metal and Crust Punk. It makes no huge leaps and bounds in the genre, but its good nonetheless. While it is still incredibly hard for me to "get into" this music, I find enjoyment in this record. It would have been nice to have the lyrics handy so that I could understand what they are about; the booklet contains no lyrics, but alas, chalk it up to one more mysterious thing about Wolves in the Throne Room.
Black Metal fanatics will certainly salivate over this release.