We’re all woven into their web of heaviness
Black metal is fairly formulaic; the blast beats, the shrieking vocality, the speedy tempos — all of these components are textbook sections in lessons on the genre. For the last 15 years spanning over nine releases (11 counting their live albums), Olympia, Washington’s Wolves in the Throne Room have taken bits and pieces of these makings as used elements in what they do. Without calls to Satanic imagery or characteristic but unnecessary corpse paint, Wolves in the Throne Room channel the misty mysteriousness of their Pacific Northwest locale into their sounds. After a pretty synth-based experimental approach they took with their 2014 album Celestite, WitTR have returned more to their dreary roots with Thrice Woven.
WitTR has always been brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver with a small rotation of other musicians contributing, but Kody Keyworth was an important addition for Thrice Woven. From the album’s beginning track “Born from the Serpent’s Eye,” the juxtaposition between a folky introductory riff line and intermittent ethereally folk guest vocals from Swedish singer Anna Von Hausswolf, Nathan W. and Keyworth band together on producing a bastion of black metal forged alongside Aaron W.’s strong drumming. It’s easily one of the best starts to an album in general, while definitely being one of the strongest on the album all together.
It leads into “The Old Ones Are With Us,” which blends a low, barreling King Dude-esque vocality with fast and brash instrumentation. Towards the end of the track, what could be mistaken as an epic Game of Thrones line is more an accurate portrayal of any gloom-loving Pacific Northwesterner’s idea of the changing of seasons. Gruffly, Nathan W. lowly recites “winter is dying /the sun is returning /the ice is receding /the rivers are flowing” as if to be somewhat disappointed, since the overall air of Thrice Woven is richly crisp like the coldest season tends to be.
“Angrboda” sees blast beats not so much as a necessary feature of the song, but as accents to wafting arrangements. It’s probably the most “typical” black metal song on the record, before a theatric and operatic “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” interrupts the heavy flow. The contrast is somewhat unexpected, but welcomed.
Thrice Woven ends with the epically named “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon.” Clocking in well over 11 minutes, “Fires Roar…” is like a journey all unto itself. It reaches some pretty high peaks of brutality as far as the trio’s collective instrumentation is concerned, somehow without being the most grisly track they’ve ever written. It’s loud and engaging yet ends with the peaceful calm of the ocean’s waves, which couldn’t be a better way to close the record out.
Considering WitTR’s career, Thrice Woven finds itself another solid release for the band. It contrasts their previous record in that it’s seems more fitting to their established style, even if that style has always incorporated myriad elements. The only way Thrice Woven could’ve been better is if WitTR released it in the dead of winter, since its sounds are just as frigid and unforgiving.