Wolves in the Throne Room- Black Cascade

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For a band that seems to be so underground oriented, Wolves in the Throne Room sure has attracted a good deal of attention. Their sophomore effort Two Hunters was on many best of 2007 lists thanks to its combination of harsh black metal and droning soundscapes, and quickly vaulted the group up the ranks. Two years later, the group has returned with their third full length release Black Cascade which offers four more tracks of atmospheric black metal. And while this effort doesn’t seem to be quite as experimental and avant-garde as its predecessor, it still has a lot to offer.

Whereas Two Hunters had a lot of softer, ambient moments Black Cascade is focused on creating a haunting and chilling atmosphere and holding it for extended periods of times. What this means is that even when the instrumentalists push in more melodic directions these songs are still very loud and abrasive rather than easing up on the intensity. Some listeners might find this to be a little more repetitive when compared to the band’s previous material, but if you’re into drone and other styles of music that are centered around these types of instrumentals you are sure to enjoy what this disc has to offer. It is interesting to note that as Wolves in the Throne Room begins to move forward, they also seem to be taking a slight step back towards standard black metal at times.

The vocals on Black Cascade are exactly what one would expect, meaning that they are offer high pitched and distorted shrieks. As with before, Wolves in the Throne Room has chosen to mix their record so that the instrumentals stand out above the vocals, meaning that the screams sound as though they are coming from the background. But although this has proven to be a flaw for some groups, the vocalist here has such a powerful shriek that it manages to cut through the sound and still grab your attention. While not all that much has changed from Two Hunters, listeners will still find that the screams fit the atmosphere of the group’s music perfectly.

Though I still prefer Two Hunters, Black Cascade is another solid album from Wolves in the Throne Room. This group is still one of the better acts in the genre and although their lengthy, repetitive riffs may not be for everyone those who are more open to the style will come away impressed. Hopefully they will continue to experiment though, as this will ensure that they stay relevant in the years to come.

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