WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM — Celestial Lineage

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WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - Celestial Lineage cover
4.24 | 21 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2011

Tracklist

1. Thuja Magus Imperium (11:48)
2. Permanent Changes in Consciousness (1:55) instrumental
3. Subterranean Imitation (7:10)
4. Rainbow Illness (1:28) instrumental
5. Woodland Cathedral (5:26)
6. Astral Blood (10:17)
7. Prayer of Transformation (10:58)

Total Time 49:02

Line-up/Musicians

- Aaron Weaver / Drums, Synth
- Nathan Weaver / Guitars, Vocals

About this release

Official release date 13rd September, 2011 on Southern Lord. Engineered by Randall Dunn at Aleph Studio. Art work by Alison Scarpulla, Aaron Turner, and Faith Coloccia. Additional vocals by Jessika Kenney.

Thanks to bartosso for the addition and umur for the updates

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WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM CELESTIAL LINEAGE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"Celestial Lineage" is the 4th full-length studio album by US black metal act Wolves in the Throne Room. The album was released through Southern Lord Records in September 2011. Wolves in the Throne Room consists of the two brothers Aaron Weaver (Drums, Synth) and Nathan Weaver (Guitars, Vocals) and are widely regarded as one of the leaders of the atmospheric US black metal scene.

The music on the album is atmospheric black metal with harsh raspy vocals (and occasional female vocals by Jessika Kenney) and nature based lyrical themes. The album features seven tracks. Two are shorter instrumentals but most of the other tracks are pretty long with three of them hitting the 10 minute mark. The tracks are adventurous and epic sounding with grand walls of synths and guitars. The band successfully vary pace and dynamics throughout the album making "Celestial Lineage" an album with a nice flow and also an album where my attention never wanders. Add to that a powerful and detailed sound production and we have a quality product and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.
Warthur
Wolves In the Throne Room's latest album expresses the band's mystical shamanic environmentalist message via a fusion of howling, furious, misanthropic black metal with spiritual, contemplative music. The Aaron Weaver's use of synthesisers in these compositions is distinct from Varg Vikernes' tinkerings in Burzum, a project whose metal side seems to have been an influence on the band (despite the Weaver brothers coming from precisely the opposite side of the political spectrum to Varg); whereas Burzum's synthesiser use drew inspiration from ambient music, here the synths are used to put the listener in mind of choirs and church organs and the like. Equally, occasional outbreaks of acoustic guitar and female vocals show a mild folk music influence on the album.

The general concept seems to be of natural wildernesses as being sacred spaces in their own right, and by and large the album is very successful at getting the idea across, with the slow closer Prayer of Transcendence somehow managing to transform black metal from a cold, angry, misanthropic hellstorm into something more contemplative and, well, transcendent. Purists may sneer, but there's little doubt in my mind that Wolves are presenting a profoundly different and novel take on the genre with this album, and it certainly inspires me to check out more of their work. Combining the musical approach of Burzum or Darkthrone with the aesthetic and spiritual stance of, say, the early Tyrannosaurus Rex albums or Devendra Banhart really shouldn't work as well as this.
Conor Fynes
'Celestial Lineage' - Wolves In The Throne Room (7/10)

Although the extreme and historically malefic genre of black metal has its origins largely traced back to Europe, the past decade has seen it shift to the North American continent. Among this new wave of black metal, it is possible that no band in the new scene has received as much attention from press as Olympia, Washington based act Wolves In The Throne Room. Without your typical church burnings and gruesome murders to attract attention, this collaboration between Weaver brothers Aaron and Nathan instead tries to negate the hateful agenda of their Norwegian contemporaries and aim for a self-proclaimed 'light' in their music; preaching a return to harmony and co-existence with nature, New Age paganism, and plenty of other stuff that the all-too significant hippie demographic of the black metal scene would be enthused by. On a musical level, the band has taken the roots of atmospheric black metal and put their own spin on it, one that runs parallel to, but can be distinguished somewhat from what black metal sounded like in the past. On top of their initial agenda, Wolves In The Throne Room has also changed their sound from album to album, with the debut 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' testing the waters, 'Two Hunters' taking ambitious leaps into ambient music and innovations with production, and the third record 'Black Cascade' taking a somewhat more straightforward approach to their style. 'Celestial Lineage' is the band's fourth record, and the apparent third and final album that Wolves In The Throne Room began with their second album. Although I canot call this a trump over my favourite Wolves album 'Two Hunters', this album's uncompromised return to their vast sound is exactly what I wanted from the band.

Although 'Black Cascade' came in between this, and 'Two Hunters', 'Celestial Lineage' feels like a sucessor to the band's second album; moving back to that grand atmosphere and vibe that I can only describe as that of 'vastness'. In many ways, I have the feeling here that Wolves In The Throne Room realized that they were in their greatest element iwith 'Two Hunters', and that there was more than enough potential with that album's sound to make another one. Keeping in mind that I did find 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' or 'Black Cascade' to be anything special, but consider 'Two Hunters' to be one of the greatest black metal albums ever, hearing this band go back to 'Two Hunters' is more than I could have asked of them. To answer the question that some may ask; no, it is not as good as 'Two Hunters', but to the band's credit, they have made their second best album here, and there are moments on 'Celestial' where their masterpiece does get a run for its money. 'Thuja Majus Imperium' seems to be a contender for the throne held by 'Vastness And Sorrow'; an epic opener that gently leads the listener in with chimes and a beautifully orchestrated ambiance. The fast pace of the band's black metal then kicks in, but there's still melodic beauty and atmosphere riding alongside the blastbeats. The other highlights here are 'Woodland Cathedral', which again seems like a sequel to 'Dia Artio' off of 'Two Hunters', and the slower paced closer 'Prayer Of Transformation', which focuses on an anthemic power. stunning ambiance, and affirmative atmosphere.None of the songs are particularly memorable on their own, but 'Celestial Lineage' gives a familiar experience, and one of

Its strength as an album aside, it does feel that Wolves In The Throne Room tried a little too hard to make another 'Two Hunters' with 'Celestial Lineage', and while this is a much better decision than rehashing either of the other two, the album has a bit of a hard time reaching out from underneath its older brother's shadow. Ideally, it would have been best to hear the band taking their past sound and doing something new and adventurous with it, but who am I to say; when it all comes down to the listening experience itself, Wolves In The Throne Room have made another great album.
J-Man
America has been a breeding ground for atmospheric black metal in recent years, and arguably the band at the forefront of this resurgence is Washington's Wolves In The Throne Room. The band's unique and majestic brand of black metal music has garnered quite a bit of hype in recent years, but it wasn't until the release of Celestial Lineage that I've finally had the opportunity to give these guys a shot. Right off the bat, two things are very clear about Wolves In The Room - this is a truly ambitious group of musicians and they definitely know how to craft thought provoking black metal music. Celestial Lineage is an epic, atmospheric, and majestic journey through the most chilling and beautiful compositions that modern black metal has to offer.

Musically, Celestial Lineage is an interesting blend of old school black metal, dark ambient, and even shoegaze with plenty of psychedelic textures and progressive nuances. Though Wolves In The Throne Room could best be described as progressive/atmospheric black metal, their sound differs tremendously from the likes of Fen, Enslaved, Shining, and other leaders of more progressive-minded black metal music. The long, brooding compositions all feature epic synthesizers, furious riffs, and tortured black metal vocals - though not every moment of Celestial Lineage is remarkable, bone-chilling tracks like "Woodland Cathedral" send shivers up my spine every time I hear them. I absolutely love the epic and progressive edge that Wolves In The Throne Room gives to their raw black metal roots, and the result is nothing short of a spectacular album.

Celestial Lineage is an exceptional effort from this Washington-based act, and their unique sound and gifted capabilities as songwriters is sure to impress fans of progressive-minded black metal. While I do think a few sections are drawn out a bit too long, there's hardly any weak moments at all on Celestial Lineage - I've had a great pleasure listening to this demanding and mature work of art. 4 stars are warranted for this highly recommended observation.
Wilytank
It was back in 2009 when I first got my exposure to Wolves in the Throne Room. I was browsing some website examining illegible band logos. I saw the interesting outlay for WITTR's 2004 demo; and though it wasn't their official logo, it was interesting enough for me to look deeper into this band. Looking them up on Youtube, I listened to the song "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" from their 2009 album 'Black Cascade' and was in love with the band on the first listen. Upon visiting an FYE, I immediately bought 'Black Cascade' and have played it several times. Since then, I've also listened to their other material and purchased another CD of theirs, 'Two Hunters', but my passion for this band was beginning to fade. Then 2011 rolled around with another Wolves in the Throne Room album, 'Celestial Lineage'; and after listening to some teasers, I felt like I was ready to fall in love with this band all over again. When I finally got a chance to listen to the whole album, it felt like my dreams came true.

At first, I felt some concern when I saw the album's track-listing. WITTR was straying from the four song formula that they have worked with for all of their past albums. 'Celestial Lineage', however, had seven. Three songs longer than ten minutes, one just longer than seven minutes, a five minute long piece and two that are less than two minutes in length. But they all work out in the end. The five minute long piece is a beautiful ambient work and the two ones less than two minutes long are barely noticeable. Everything else is atmospheric black metal Elysium.

We start out with the longest song, "Thuja Magus Imperium". Ambient begins the journey with keyboards and chimes. Jessica Kenney, who has worked with the band in the past, returns to provide some vocal imagery to this piece of transcendence. The lead guitar kicks in at the 2:19 mark with the other metal instruments joining it at 3:09 and Nathan Weaver delivering his spiritual vocal passages. The tempo starts out slow, but gets faster after Nathan's first verse is over. Gradually getting different and varied, the builds up to a guitar solo at 5:05 which breaks up the passage nicely. The song then slows down with the keyboards trying to take over. The metal stops at 6:46 giving way to the keyboard and chime ambient that felt like nirvana. The lead guitar comes back in at 8:04 the same way it did earlier in the song; but this time around, the song stays slower. As the song goes onward, it doesn't speed up at all. The lead guitar maintains the atmosphere as the song plays out and ends, particularly at 9:49 where it assumes its most dominant position. "Thuja Magus Imperium" is one of the best songs I've heard released this year and really demonstrates that Wolves in the Throne Room have not lost it at all.

But this is just the first song on the album!

The next black metal song, "Subterranean Initiation", starts off without any ambiance to kick it off. As the song goes on though, the keyboards do make it sound like an Emperor song. There are a generous amount of changes. In fact, at one point, there's a type of break that I've seen Wolves in the Throne Room use that it's basically a signature style for them here. The drums are played by Aaron Weaver in a way that I've never heard Faust or Trym play. The song never goes back to the Emperor style that came before the break. It ends with WITTR's own tone to it, which is very good.

If you enjoyed "Dia Artio" from 'Two Hunters', you don't want to skip the interlude "Woodland Cathedral". It sounds surprisingly similar to it. But what I like better this time around is that the keyboards play a more dominant role, and Jessica Kenney's vocals give a clean, purifying feel to it. That's all I have to say for this primarily ambient piece.

"Astral Blood" is the next black metal piece here. It starts with one guitar, with another joining it, then drums kicking in with double bass for a steady mid-to-fast paced intro before the drums return to blast beating and the vocals begin. Compared to "Subterranean Initiation" the melodic aspect of this song, even while fast paced, was very "WHOA!" worthy to me. Once the song reaches the break, there's acoustic instruments with keyboard and wind sound effects to set the atmosphere. When the electric instruments return in 5:40, a slow and mysterious sounding tone is represented here with the effect on the guitar. One of the guitars keeps that tone even when the song speeds up again. It's gone by the 8:14 mark, but returns at 8:52 to help give this song an atmospheric ending.

And at last there is "Prayer of Transformation"; and as the slowest and most transcendental song on the album, it's the perfect way to end this album. With the guitar pretty much hitting one note per every four beats in the tempo, the intro doesn't do much; but the lead guitar suddenly into tremolos at 3:21, with Nathan's verses starting shortly after. The tone grows calmer at 4:21 with that guitar still maintaining that tremolo. Then, the keyboards come in at the background for added ambiance. More variations come and go, such as the drums disappearing rather early and acoustic guitar taking over some of the rhythm parts. The song begins its outro rather early and draws it out for a minute or so giving you time to reflect over the entire album and evaluate your experience.

And my evaluation is that 'Celestial Lineage' may be Wolves in the Throne Room's best album yet. Though the keyboards are definitely more present here than ever before, they work out perfectly as they really drive home the definition of "atmospheric black metal". 'Celestial Lineage' will definitely be one of the best (if not THE best) releases of 2011.

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