When they landed in the scene more than a decade ago, Wolves in the Throne Room shined a light on a clutch of rural American metal artists whose ideas were idiosyncratic and deserved attention. Brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver wrought black metal in their own image, and in doing so linked the dominant European black metal movement with the potential inherent in USBM.
When we had the opportunity to spend 5,000 words exploring the band’s history and current approach to their sound, we hoped some of the band’s peers would be able to provide some commentary about the Wolves potency and legacy. We were not disappointed. Steve Von Till – Neurosis heavy and contributor to forthcoming Wolves record Thrice Woven – was eloquent in his thoughts about their music, and we also heard from Panopticon mastermind Austin Lunn and photographer, author and Decibel contributor Dayal Patterson. Von Till’s comments fit neatly into the article, but we were unable to unleash Lunn’s and Patterson’s full responses into that cover story. In fact, Lunn’s story about his early experience with Wolves is profound enough for an article all its own (though, you’ll notice, we lack the class to offer even that).
Get the full scoop below.
When did you first hear Wolves in the Throne Room?
Lunn: This is a bit of a personal story actually. I went through a few spells of my life when I was dirt-ass poor and didn’t hardly have a pot to piss in. I used to work my job and then go up to the day labor place for extra money, sifting trash in the dump or working in factories and stuff on my days off. The day labor place would give you six bucks a head per person you drove to the job site… So here’s me driving around listening to Deicide with a bunch junkies and sketchy bums in my car going to work in the dump and what not, and I would use that extra money I got from carting these dudes around to buy records at the Louisville record store, ear X-tacy.
There were a lot of releases coming out at the time that the first Wolves record came out, and I couldn’t hardly keep up. I didn’t have a computer or the internet, so I didn’t have a way to check stuff out online or anything, so I just kept looking at the record in the shop and debating on getting it. Well, someone else got it before I could.
I met Bekah, whom I ended up marrying, right before that. We had become great friends and she had toured with a blackened death band I was in at the time and we got super close. When we were courting, she used to send me mix CDs in these elaborate packages, and “Queen of the Borrowed Light” was on one of them. She knew I was broke as a joke, and after a long day of traveling together she hid a copy of that first Wolves record in my collection. It was kinda how I knew we were more than friends and ever since then we had been a couple. We have been together about ten years or so now and married for eight and have two kids, so in a way that record is very sentimental to me.
Wolves stayed at my place the first time they played Louisville and we sat around the fire drinking all night and Bekah and I had the chance to tell them that story. They were wonderful folks and it was great to spend a drinking night with them.
Patterson: I remember I first heard about the band when Diadem of 12 Stars was released – the group’s name was also unusual enough to catch the eye. It was also clear that the brothers were coming from a different cultural background from many of the bands in the black metal scene and that also made us curious, I think. It wasn’t until Two Hunters came out that I really took the time to listen to the band’s music and I was very happy to find that it sat more than comfortably among the more established bands in the movement.
What interactions have you had with the band?
Patterson: If memory serves – and it’s possible it doesn’t, since a decade has passed now – I’ve interviewed the band on four occasions in total, with the first dating back to 2007. Most of my interactions have been with Aaron, who has always proved an engaging, interesting and good-humoured conversant. One of my strongest memories of the band wasn’t as a writer but as a photographer though; I shot the band on three occasions for Terrorizer magazine and one of these involved taking the group to a fairly well known North London location called Highgate Woods (incidentally the same spot where we took the photos for Fen’s Winter album) for a series of portraits (one of these appears in Evolution Of The Cult). It was quite an amusing experience, particularly as Nathan had a lot of opinions on the pictures!
In your book, Evolution of the Cult, you spoke to them about political views, which I found to be an interesting choice. Can you recall what context there was for engaging in that particular topic?
Patterson: The interview in that book dates back somewhat earlier than the rest of the book but was important because WITTR were voicing ideas that contrasted with a previous chapter on NSBM and the purpose of that book was partly to show how broad the interpretations within black metal were. The band also represented a face of what I would call modern or post black metal that was simultaneously a natural continuation from the second wave Scandinavian bands of the 90s, but was also stepping away from certain aspects of that scene’s image and ideologies. I think it’s a bit unfair to overplay the so-called “political” aspect of the band however, as that isn’t really a defining aspect, and so I tried to balance this part of the conversation with a wider discussion. That said, it was (especially at that time) notable that the group were willing to talk about their ecological ideas and certain other ideological/philosophical aspects that we hadn’t heard much of in black metal before that time.
What about their music resonates most strongly with you?
Patterson: In Wolves, I feel that same hypnotic immersion, aura of revelation and sense of negation (of modern values, society, god, religion, humanity, define it as you will) that I get from listening to the more transcendental side of 90s black metal (early Emperor, Ulver, Burzum, Enslaved, Satyricon and so on). There is a definite spiritual overtone in their compositions and a willingness to use melody and beauty while nevertheless maintaining a very cold and sometimes very harsh edge. Even when the songs are lengthy, there is a feeling that the band is always going somewhere and taking the listener with them on that journey.
Thrice Woven will be released September 22nd on Artemesia Records.