Wolves in the Throne Room Black Cascade

Wolves in the Throne Room have made quite the name for themselves in the last couple of years, achieving a level of underground crossover success rarely attained by black metal acts. Seemingly to dispel the misapplied "post-rock-influenced" tag from their music once and for all, they've gone all out on Black Cascade, sticking to a consistently aggressive approach that is a sharp contrast to their 2007 breakthrough, Two Hunters. However, don't despair, they haven't abruptly morphed into Marduk or Dark Funeral overnight. "Ahrimanic Trance" stands out, crashing out of the gate immediately following a burst of feedback and shifting subtly throughout its 14-minute duration before segueing into a decidedly unsettling, dirge-like conclusion. Beyond these moments of relative calm the record is easily their most primitive and stripped down yet, dispensing with the expected female vocal presence and most of the spaciousness of their prior work. While it may turn off fans of their early experimentation, what this record proves, as if it was ever in question, is that Wolves in the Throne Room can compose and play excellent black metal, with relatively no-frills that's riff-focused above all else. While it may not be a genre-defining statement, Black Cascade holds down the fort more than adequately for the time being. (Southern Lord)