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Wolves in the Throne Room - Diadem of 12 Stars

Discussion in 'Metal Reviews' started by circus_brimstone, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. circus_brimstone

    circus_brimstone Forest: Sold Out

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    Wolves in the Throne Room – Diadem of 12 Stars
    Vendlus Records – Vend013 – February 5th, 2006
    By Jason Jordan

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    Many of the accolades, that other USBM groups are receiving, deserve to be thrown in the general vicinity of Wolves in the Throne Room, rather than forcing them to scavenge for their own dried-up carcasses of praise. If anything, this trio prove they can hang with any of their North American peers, and Diadem of 12 Stars is quite a manifestation – for the patient black metal listener who likes glints of folk. Not only is it a monster of a record, which effortlessly taps the one-hour mark, but it’s also the debut from a criminally underrated act.

    Let’s talk background first, though. This Washington-based alliance have always been compared to Weakling, so I for one wasn’t blindsided when Tim Green (The Fucking Champs) decided to both record and master this outing. The bits and pieces of folk – or the organic sections in general – remind me of early Ulver, Woods of Ypres, and Agalloch, though folk is most assuredly not the captain of this ship. Aided by guest vocalists Jamie (Hammers of Misfortune) and Dino (Asunder), Wolves in the Throne Room strengthened their offensive by utilizing the services of the performers listed above. As I said earlier, however, Diadem of 12 Stars requires a patient absorber – not an antsy one who gets off on short songs, breakneck speed, or any mixture of the two. Frankly, these guys are rickety when the speed crosses a certain threshold, and you’ll probably notice it when it happens. But let’s dwell on the highlights.

    “Queen of the Borrowed Light” – an opus which originally appeared on 2005 Demo – simply radiates the USBM feel at first with its ominous, discordant beginning. It then transitions into a comfortably paced number, bringing to mind visions of a lush forest (cover art at work?) while the soothing background vocals rope the listener in with ease. Perhaps the strongest asset of Wolves in the Throne Room is their ability to vary the tempo by tearing it down and building it up systematically, or maybe its their otherworldliness established by sheer hypnotism. I mean, this stuff casts trances and hexes and spells at will, man! The clean female vox on “Part 1” of “Face in a Night Time Mirror” are striking, brilliant in scope and execution. The merging just plain works, and the two-part composition is antagonistic and despondent – still, it’s inviting in all its misanthropic glory. There are too many impressive spots to cite only one. Plus, the strained vocals are exceptional, especially since the regular distorted growls aren’t really that noteworthy. “(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars” – another one from 2005 Demo – has been shortened for Diadem of 12 Stars, but clocks in at 20 minutes despite its recent trim. And yes, it is essentially a culmination of all the attributes we’ve heard previously.

    If I were to pinpoint a major vulnerability within this USBM body, then I’d immediately call out the enormous length. While 60 minutes sounds pretty good for someone who likes to get his/her money’s worth, it’s not as approachable or manageable when only four songs occupy the album’s breadth – no tune is less than 13 minutes. In short, Wolves in the Throne Room are daunting. And this is black metal, so it follows that it’s not for everyone. Nonetheless, Diadem of 12 Stars isn’t meant to be consumed absentmindedly or in short bursts; you’ve gotta corner the fucker, wrestle it into submission, or die trying. In any case, though, this is a fine collection of black metal, and is probably one of the better ones we’ll see this year. Arguably WitTR deserve as much of the spotlight as their US counterparts, but I’m sure they’ll steal some of it with a substantive full-length under their belts. Unchain the Wolves indeed.

    8/10

    UM’s Review Rating Scale

    Official Wolves in the Throne Room Website
    Official Vendlus Records Website
     
  2. Ellestin

    Ellestin one-click buy

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    Jason, I hate you for making me need this so bad!

    Weakling is teh own, seriously.
     
  3. JayKeeley

    JayKeeley Be still, O wand'rer!

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    The demo is outstanding. One of the better releases of 2005 in fact. Even at demo quality, I tend to think Wolves song material is better than Weakling.

    I look forward to picking up the full release from Vendlus.
     
  4. Rodrigo

    Rodrigo Heat in 7

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    I definitely need to pick this album up.

    Cool review.
     
  5. Russell

    Russell __

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  6. dubloth

    dubloth lurker

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  7. MajestikMøøse

    MajestikMøøse Membrum virile

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    Looking forward to getting this one in the mail
     
  8. Nate The Great

    Nate The Great What would Nathan do?

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    This album is EXCELLENT. A nice mixture of the pagan European black metal and a slight touch of USBM. Everybody needs this album now.
     
  9. Ten SiSi

    Ten SiSi New Metal Member

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    I can't believe it recieved an 8/10. This is a masterpiece of american black metal.
     
  10. BloodSword

    BloodSword Member

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    Reviewer hit the nail on the head. For me, this is an absolutely daunting listen. Been listening for 6 months now and it still pulverizes me. The most tortured screams/vokills I've heard in a long time.
     
  11. Dazed and Brutal

    Dazed and Brutal Yall About to Witness

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    Looking forward to picking this one up.
     

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