Back on the prowl
Release Date: September 21, 2017
Record Label: Artemisia
Coming to us some six years after their last full-length metal album (with 2014’s Celestite famously splitting opinion thanks to its role as a sort of instrumental ambient companion to 2011’s Celestial Lineage), Thrice Woven arrives with some considerable expectations. It is with some relief, then, that the record quickly proves itself a return to the glories of old, while also—in fine Wolves in the Throne Room tradition—sounding a little different from earlier works and refusing to simply recycle old templates.
Still holding firmly onto the “campfire in the forest” ambience that has always given their albums a defining blend of intimacy and transcendental revelation, Thrice Woven is defined in a good deal of traditionalism, specifically second-wave black metal traditionalism. Opening track “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” sets the scene, propelling itself forward thanks to a collection of lengthy, melancholy and embittered riffs, as well as a foundation of high-paced percussion, screamed vocals and some tasteful use of shimmering clean guitars. Of course, what separates it from the vast majority of like-minded acts is the unapologetically minimal and ethereal mid-section, made up of the multilayered vocals of Swedish singer Anna von Hausswolff.
She returns (along with Turkish harpist Zeynep Oyku) with the short “Mother Owl, Father Ocean,” but generally the formula remains the same—though needless to say, the strength of the songwriting is such that the tracks never approach the formulaic. One thing that is worth mentioning, though, is the curious shift in atmosphere—despite the overt occult overtones (Norse mythology curiously providing much of the inspiration), it must be said that Thrice Woven is not a particularly dark album in terms of it’s overall ambiance. It’s a small point, but play alongside the more challenging Celestial Lineage (for example) and you will feel the difference.
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