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Wolves in the Throne Room - "Black Cascade"

It all began innocently enough.  I read a blurb about the band, “Wolves in the Throne Room” (or as my wife calls them, “Wolves in the Bathroom”) on the web.  The piece described Wolves as an “ambient black metal” band.  I had no idea what that meant.  I knew what black metal was from the days of my youth – poorly recorded heavy metal churned out by bands like Venom who sang silly songs about Satan.  And I also was familiar with Brian Eno’s ambient music from albums like “Music for Airports,” “Another Green World” and “Apollo.”  I can see Eno collaborating with David Byrne and Jah Wobble, but Eno crossed with Venom?  It just didn’t compute.

I was already intrigued, but then I found a review of a recent album that described black metal this way: ”Despite its modest early-’80s inception at the hands of England’s blissfully clueless, crude, and cartoonish (errr, also brilliant, of course) Venom, black metal has emerged as one of the heavy metal movement’s most diverse and astonishingly experimental subgenres, thanks to endless shape-shifting through the years as it quickly suffused the planet with its controversially anti-everything musical and lyrical philosophies.  Now, as the ’00s draw to a close, the style’s leading creative edge appears to reside with bands focused on extended meditations steeped in folk and psychedelic music, atmospheric textures, and mystical pagan themes, e.g. Enslaved, Nachtmystium and Wolves in the Throne Room.”* Black metal diverse, experimental and creative?  That’s not what I remember, but I was hooked – color me fascinated.

So I started to look around and what I found was astonishing; it sounded like a joke, a “mockumentary” like This Is Spinal Tap meets A Mighty Wind at a Viking reenactor convocation. Are you ready for this list?  Here goes:

Eco-friendly “green” black metal? Check.

French shoegazer black metal? Check.

Finnish “trollish hoedown metal?” Check.

Ukrainian autumn-loving drone black metal? Check.

Scandinavian pagan folk metal groups that use both regional folk instruments and regional dialects? Check.

Viking metal bands crooning paeans to Odin, Thor and Asgaard?  Check.

Join me here at Pitch Black Brigade as I discover the good, the bad and the ugly of contemporary black metal.

*Eduardo Rivadavia, Review of Forest of Stars, “The Corpse of Rebirth,” iTunes, accessed 10.17.10 at 12:45 p.m.

  1. Joshua Chase
    October 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading more! A friend was telling me about the sub-genre Funeral which is supposedly super slow and dark metal. I want to hear what that sounds like.

  2. Langdon Hickman
    April 18, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I’m a new reader, but I just read all or at least a huge chunk of your posts. I found you by your review of Diotima. I’m actually listening to the NPR stream for the second time; I like to read reviews of albums after my first listen just to see how my thoughts line up and, you know, good reviews point out some sonic things you might miss at first glance, which you did, and those little pointers for further listens are something I like a lot. I really like your blog, I have to say. I was particularly drawn to your review of Ecailles de Lune, Paracletus and Diotima, as well as your micro-reviews, as I’m more into the really proggy, out-there side of black metal. I also like how each of the blurbs in this post refer to actual bands. I just hope you actually get around to reviewing some Drudkh. (Hahaha.)

    Anyway, keep up the good work. This blog is awesome as hell.

    • April 18, 2011 at 6:32 am

      Langdon – Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful words. I’m glad you enjoyed the posts. And I hope you enjoyed “Diotima” – I was blown away by it. Let me know what you are listening to these days – I am always looking for new stuff to listen to. Thanks again – you made my day!

    • April 18, 2011 at 6:36 am

      P.S. Spread the word!

  3. MGARR
    April 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I love this site!

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