Wolves In the Throne Room – Black Cascade (Southern Lord Records)

Friday, 15th March 2013
Rating: 9/10

Their stance as nature-worshiping, old-fashioned heathens (the kind, civilized ones) now fully exposed and understood, WITTR proves they are of equal substance and style with Black Cascade. Not like they weren’t before, but unlike several “name” bands that receive higher-than-before exposure, Wolves don’t appear to be taking a dive anytime soon…

The follow-up to 2007’s world-beater Two HuntersBlack Cascade sees Wolves make an even more concerted attempt at bringing those cold, home-spun BM melodies to the fore, allowing for that indispensable atmosphere to take full form. There is a little more wiggle-room for those calculated, Northern US riffs to take hold, as evidenced by lead-off track, “Wanderer Above the Sea Fog.”

Like its predecessor, Black Cascade is only at four songs, but these are long, tenured jams that roll on and on and on. Just look at “Ahrimanic Trance” where an almost hypnotic blast-beat (done in half-time) provides the foundation for psychedelic riffage and churning melodies. This goes on for the entire song, mind you, and it’s nothing short of epic.

“Ex Cathedra” begins with a slow fade-in and shifts to a winding, somber guitar line that ranks among the band’s finest moments to date. It will almost drain you, this after the pummeling we took with “Ahrimanic Trance.” In fact, Wolves never hesitate to pick up the tempo. They do it in “Ex Cathedra” and album closer “Crystal Ammunition” follows suit, but contains a well-placed folk interlude that allows Black Cascade to bow out with more dignity and class than 80 Norwegian BM bands.

American black metal has totally upped the ante this year in the two-pronged attack of Absu’s simply devastating self-titled album and Black Cascade. The beauty of it all is that both bands are operating in different plains and universes and bear little, if any resemblance to each other sonically. If we had to pick, we’ll go with Wolves, only because these Olympia, WA-based lads have yet to peak. If they have, Black Cascade is one friggin’ high mountain to scale.

www.myspace.com/wolvesinthethroneroom

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)