In the Heart of the Woods
The Making of Wolves in the Throne Room’s Two Hunters
The scent of cedar and oil smoke. Mist hangs in the air. The faint glow of lamps is the only illumination, and the meditative drone of soft synthesizers is the only sound. All of a sudden, two beams of light piece the fog, and a volley of tremolo-picked riffs and double-bass drumming strikes like a storm coming in from the ocean. That’s what it was like seeing Olympia, WA black metal trio Wolves in the Throne Room play after the release of their sophomore album Two Hunters in 2007.
Composed of brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver—drummer and guitarist/vocalist, respectively—and guitarist Rick Dahlen, Wolves in the Throne Room laid out a distinct vision for what American black metal could be on their debut album, Diadem of 12 Stars. Where their Norwegian forebears were maleficent and furious as a blizzard, Wolves were meditative and introspective, using blinding rhythms and symphonic guitars to evoke the temperate and rain-soaked pine forests of the Pacific Northwest. And where their inspirations preached hatred and burned churches, the no-less reclusive Wolves obliquely gestured to radical environmentalism long smoldering in the crust punk scene that birthed them.
Those themes and ideas came to a head on Two Hunters. Recorded with Sunn 0))) producer Randall Dunn in nearby Seattle, the album captures some of their most evocative melodies with a thick, rich sound befitting the mythic scope of their ambition. From the ambient introduction of “Dea Artio” to the expansive near 20-minute climax of “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots,” it’s an immersive listen by turns fast and slow, loud and soft, bitter and hopeful. The crystallization of the band’s vision makes it the quintessential album among the often-contentious “Cascadian black metal” canon (alongside Agalloch’s The Mantle), which helped whet America’s appetite for bands like Deafheaven and, by extension, almost every atmospheric black metal album clogging up Bandcamp’s top metal releases page.
While Two Hunters marked a victory for Wolves in the Throne Room, it also ushered in the end of an era for the group. Dahlen left the band not long after its release—this is his first interview as a member of the group. Now a college professor, he hasn’t released an album since. Vastness and sorrow, indeed.
Need more Wolves in the Throne Room? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with the members who performed on Two Hunters, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.