Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestite

Sharon O'Connell

By Sharon O'Connell

on 07.14.14 in Reviews

Olympia’s Wolves in the Throne Room have long held to a unique definition of black metal. Their music isn’t unprecedented, exactly, but they challenge the genre’s dependence on nihilism and aggression, instead exploring the depths of personal darkness and existential despair, with a view to passing through into mystical quiet. Brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver have raged doomily in the past, and admitted gothic, wyrd folk and illbient elements into their gloomily intense sound, but on their fifth album, they reposition black metal’s philosophy according to a deeply personal view.

Challenging black metal’s dependence on nihilism and aggression

A companion recording to 2011′s Celestial Lineage and the first on their own label, Celestite is entirely instrumental, a set of five processed, analog synthesizer pieces with added flute, trombone and French horn. The experimental tracks align WITTR with cosmic-house exponents Murcof, Tim Hecker and Blanck Mass, who in turn track back to Tangerine Dream, Vangelis and John Carpenter.

Opener “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” is icier than Neptune, while the brief “Initiation at Neudeg Alm” suggests a scorched landscape stalked by malevolent spirits, and the epic “Celestite Mirror” plays out like a narrative of lonely, post-apocalyptic survival. Aaron Weaver has said he believes that “black metal fundamentally is an attempt to reawaken an ancient spirit.” The haunting Celestite feels like a step towards realizing that aim.