The Weaver brothers have neither been a pair to lose sleep over what others think of them; once upon a time this worked much in their favour. Their attitude towards self sufficient living, farming their own land and reimagining the sound of black metal, into epically long musical dramatisations overflowing with classical overtones, earned them a loyal following that set about defining the term ‘hipster black metal’.
There is an argument to be had over how much bands owe their fans; on the one hand Wolves In The Throne Room is entirely Nathan and Aaron’s baby and they are free to experiment with it as much as they please without worrying about the approval of others. On the other, they would not be where they are today without the admiration of those that first fell in love with the likes of A Diadem Of 12 Stars and Two Hunters so it comes with both intrigue and surprise that the duo have seemingly turned their back on black metal forever and wandered down an entirely different musical path.
Most will be quick to jump on the “this sounds like a Burzum prison album” bandwagon, however, this record is much more creative than that (thank goodness). Synthesisers, strident brass instruments and flutes compose much of this record and it sounds entirely like Black Cascade minus the restless tremolo picking and thunderous percussion. Sure enough, the luminal mix of droned-out synths and beat machines is packing atmosphere by the bucket load, but this is the sort of thing that would sit better as the soundtrack to a creepy sci-fi flick opposed to something you’d throw on and listen to from start to finish.
“We didn’t want to have songs in that traditional sense,” Aaron recently told the blog Steel for Brains about the material on Celestite. “We wanted to have soundscapes, and we wanted to have washes. We wanted to have planets moving past each other.” These are all things that made their previous albums so amazing – the furious shred of guitars padded out by eerie sounding synths is what gave WITTR their trademark sound. Making what is essentially effects and background noise the centre piece of a record is an entirely needless and bombastic move on the brothers’ part.
Wolves In The Throne Room have fallen back on their ability to create immersive and intricate atmospheres in the past when their musicianship has failed them. Unfortunately for these two, neither one of them has the skill required to create electronic music of this magnitude and by pushing their safety net to the forefront they have nothing left to fall back on, meaning the fruits of their labour seem hollow and meaningless.
Many will seek to find reasoning behind the Weavers’ sudden change in direction and will find themselves coming up empty. Despite the band’s non-chalant attitude towards the way they are perceived, they will soon find they’ve betrayed and alienated those that have followed them longest by replacing their signature sound with something that is overly ambitious and seemingly without reason.
Scribed by: Angela Davey