Wolves in the Throne Room - Diadem of 12 Stars - Vendlus Records 2006
1. Queen of the Borrowed Night 2. Face in a Night Time Mirror Part 1 3. Face in a Night Time Mirror Part 2 4. (A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars
The amount of quality black metal bands hailing from the United States seems to be ever increasing, in a scene which once had very little to offer. Bands like Secrets She Kept, Sothis, and Kult ov Azazel have all made significant strides in recent years to add a lot of credibility to American black metal. Wolves in the Throne Room take what these bands have done one step further, as they musically push the limits of black metal and music in general with their debut full-length entitled “Diadem of 12 Stars.” This dynamic three-piece, from the shores of Olympia, Washington, have compiled four ten-plus minute songs that never cease to wonder and amaze. In other words, their extremely long songs rarely sound boring and repeated, which is a feat that is very difficult to pull off.
There are many keys to the success of Wolves in the Throne Room. The vocals, shared by guitarists Rick and Nathan, are your standard black metal shrieks – nothing revolutionary but they get the job done nicely, with occasional variations in tone or style. The guitar work by the pair, however, is outstanding. Somehow, they have managed to create riffing patterns in all four songs that repeat continuously for ten or fifteen minutes and never get old. In addition, the riffs possess almost a double feeling – one epic and one raw. It’s a very difficult feeling to explain and probably has something to do with the tuning and mixing, but Wolves manage to retain a rather brutal black metal sound simultaneously with one normally akin to Viking or folk metal.
These riffing patterns lead to another one of Wolves in the Throne Room’s main assets, which is their ability to smoothly integrate folk influences into their music. This phenomenon stands out particularly on “Face in a Night Time Mirror Part 1,” which features not only some chilling acoustic guitar sections but also female vocals with keyboard accompaniment. Oftentimes bands will try and force such sounds into their songs with transitions that are far from smooth – fortunately for the listener Wolves do just the opposite. Their writing ability is seemingly very polished, and they do a good job transitioning from part to part and sound to sound.
“Diadem of 12 Stars” is the best American black metal album I’ve heard since Secrets She Kept’s “Requiems to Midnight, Woe,” which I highly praised on this very site some months ago. It’s a real pleasure to see a band like Wolves in the Throne Room unafraid to take some pretty hefty risks as far as song length and accessibility, especially since they pulled it off pretty flawlessly. Although it’s likely that only serious black metal fans would at first be able to grasp the brilliance of this album, I would still recommend it to any fan of metal.