WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM — Diadem of 12 Stars (review)

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM — Diadem of 12 Stars album cover Album · 2006 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Most of the metal genres focus on intense instrumentation, overt technicality, and outspeeding each other. Black metal is a bit different in the sense that it generally has been more about the evil atmosphere. To achieve this the bands use lo-fi production and walls of buzzing noise to envelope the listener in a haze of malice.

Diadem of 12 Stars is an example of when this can go wrong. In an attempt to make the genre more atmospheric the band extends and pads their songs with longer bouts of slow noise, forgoes the use of bass to make the shrieking guitar sound more abrasive, and makes the recording quality intentionally poor. Unfortunately this makes the band sound like a bunch of teens who just discovered black metal and decided to record in a cave (fortunately for them, this is the imagery they're going for).

The songs themselves lack development as well. Most of the songs are several bars of one tremolo chord followed by several bars of a different chord, with repetitive drums behind it. While bands like Bathory were doing this long ago there were generally changes in riffs and melodies and the vocals made variations on the theme. These early bands constructed a song off of a couple of riffs and developed it so the composition was worthy of an epic length, rather than stretching out a riff and padding it until the time is past ten minutes.

Quality aside, this is not really black metal. All the instrumentation is there, though the musical style is closer to the most repetitive of post metal. However, it seems to lack more of the atmosphere of either genre, rather being like an overlong song experiment.

Ultimately, Wolves in the Throne Room is better as a live performance band, where the immediacy of the sound is at the face. The band would improve with subsequent releases such as Two Hunters and Black Cascade. However, this band will have to start off with this juvenille release, which really strives to be more than it is.
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