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
2.5/5 ·
Conor Fynes
'Diadem Of 12 Stars' - Wolves In The Throne Room (5/10)

Wolves In The Throne Room's 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' has that rare honour of being a debut album that has been called a masterpiece of its style. Although the second record 'Two Hunters' received even greater acclaim, this first full-length from the Washington-based group sent waves throughout the North American black metal scene. Having been introduced to this band through their masterpiece 'Two Hunters', I grew to love what the band had done on that album. Its spiritual atmosphere and epic approach made it an album that I came to love, even if it was a tad slow to grow on me. With my experience of their best album coming first, my experience with the first and third albums has been something of a disappointment. 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' is even more disappointing than 'Black Cascade', if even only for the fact that I had been told numerous times what a majestic album it was. However, what its turned out to be for me has been a sloppy and meandering take on black metal that shows great potential around its edges, but comes up short in the end.

The album is an hour long, divided into four tracks. With the last track passing the grand 20 minute mark, Wolves In The Throne Room can at the very least be lauded for being so ambitious. What I have found this music to be however is brutally inconsistent. There are parts here where I see where the album's fans are coming from however. the clean female vocals are a very ethereal touch, and what melodies that Wolves chooses to elaborate on tend to work very well. All of these aspects would turn out much better on 'Two Hunters' though. The dreary production is fairly standard for the genre, but here, it tends to obscure some of the guitars and drums to a point where it stops contributing to the atmosphere, and starts to deter from the musical experience.

'Two Hunters' was lo-fi, but looking back on it, it had a very refined sensibility to it; there was that feeling that each piece of reverb and ambiance was an intentional move of the band/ Here on 'Diadem Of 12 Stars', there is more the feeling that Wolves In The Throne Room took all of their pieces and tossed them on the floor, just to see where they might end up. These compositions are not totally random, but they feel as if they lack a strong sense of direction to them. Be it for the lack of many melodies and somewhat monotonous nature of the black metal riffing here, none of the songs really distinguish themselves from one another. Instead, I can remember this album for the good moments where the band gets that dramatic atmosphere that I heard so much of on 'Two Hunters'.

I cannot say that I can see why 'Diadem Of 12 Stars' is considered such an accomplishment by the American black metal community. It is far more ambitious than the average black metal record, but alot of these ideas feel sloppy and unrealized. Were it not for the moments of inspiration, the album would be fairly bland for me. Wolves In The Throne Room would fortunately take the good elements here and amplify them however, and with their second time around, they would finally create what I consider to be a masterpiece of this style of music.
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