Wolves in the Throne Room

Celestial Lineage

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Over the course of their impressive first three albums, Portland, Oregon-based sibling duo Wolves in the Throne Room have established, arguably even steadily incremented, their place on the front lines of the American black metal scene. But even they recognized the need to broaden their sonic palette during the six-month fermentation process that spawned their fourth long-player, Celestial Lineage, in 2011. Not by turning their backs on those formative Norse black metal origins, mind you (you'll find plenty of buzzsaws, blastbeats, and screeches here), but by daring to introduce even more alien elements into their midst. Hey, everybody's trying it, but few can pull it off in convincing fashion, ensuring that those dalliances with atmospheric passages, reams and reams of background synthesizers, and other non-metallic counterpoints (see all-inclusive opening statement "Thuja Magus Imperium") sound neither forced nor contrived with post-metal intentions (hello, Drudkh!). So let's see here: there's the densely symphonic barrage of "Subterranean Imitation," the ethereal pagan oath of "Woodland Cathedral" (one of several tracks featuring angelic croons from guest Jessika Kenney), the vaguely space rock-inspired melodies and ambience of "Astral Blood," and the dramatic doom-like funeral procession of "Prayer of Transformation." Finally, fleshing out this blackened and charred corpse and proving that WITTR envisioned Celestial Lineage as a complete, album-length experience are two mood-setting instrumental interludes, the phantasmagorical horror movie vignette "Permanent Changes in Consciousness" and the pulsing mechanical resonance of "Rainbow Illness." Heck, the consistently unified lyrics extolling all manner of pagan mysteries and parallel worlds of the mind's eye might have confirmed this sooner, had all of this hellish screaming been anywhere close to intelligible -- but that's black metal, baby, and Wolves in the Throne Room continue to do the genre proud with contributions such as this.

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