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Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestite Album Cover

Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestite

Reviewed by
6.8
Wolves In The Throne RoomCelestite
Record Label: Artmisia Records
Release Date: July 7, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Since 2006, Wolves In The Throne Room have played a large part in generating interest for American black metal. Their debut record, Diadem of 12 stars, mixed traditional black metal stylings with ambient, post-rock influenced passages that laid the foundation for many bands that are currently making waves in the USBM scene today. They may not have been the first to mix the two styles, but the mastery with which they did it gained them recognition in circles outside of the metal world. 2011's Celestial Lineage, their finest work to date, did even more to boost their popularity.

Instead of continuing down the route of putting out solid records that build and expand upon the last (with the exception of the disappointing Black Cascade), Wolves In The Throne Room have taken on a completely new look for their new record, Celestite. Championed as a companion album to Celestial Lineage, Celestite ditches the drums and the vocals in favor of synthesized, ambient sound scapes and walls of guitar to make a record that's equal parts ambient electronic and drone metal. This isn't the first time a black metal band has pulled this move, and as a matter of fact it's a trick right out of Burzum's book. Nevertheless, Wolves In The Throne room aim to switch things up with the record, and even if it falls short in a few respects, Celestite mostly accomplishes what it sets out to do.

The band works with a pretty wide variety of sounds throughout the record, crafting very layered and dense atmospheres out of low, rumbling bass, crunchy guitars, bouncing synthesizers, droning tones, horns, strings, etc. There's a lot to peel back here, and on "Initiation at Neudeg Alm," the several elements build and swirl around each other to create a world that begs for your attention. It's about what you would expect if you stripped away the piercing vocals and unrelenting drums from a Celestial Linage cut and tossed in some arpeggiated synths and zeroed in on the atmosphere. The focal point of the record, "Celestite Minor," extends things out into a nearly 15-minute track, and even for a purely ambient track it doesn't really drag on or feel too long. It manages to build and release in the way that all of the best tracks of this style do, opening up for bright organs to shine through before harsh brass and bass take over as the song falls into a black pit.

Other parts of the record don't fare so well in this regard, as opener "Turning Ever Towards The Sun" tends to feel like it drags when the back half of the track fails to really go anywhere after a promising build up. "Bridge of Leaves," one of the shorter cuts on here, suffers from a similar problem of staying in one mode for too long, failing to hold our attention long enough to justify its redundancy. The final track is also a bit of a let down, as the synth tones on it sound really inviting and pull you in, but the walls of strings that soon take over feel far to similar to ground already tread earlier on the album.

Celestite has a lot of great things going for it, but more often than not it fails to live up to its potential. There are absolutely stunning passages on here to be sure, but as a whole the record fails to really take your breath away like one would hope. Some of the ambiance is a little too thin, leaving a lot more to be desired. Still, it's a commendable project from a band that isn't afraid of challenging themselves and doing something different. Whether or not they continue down this path or pick back up where they left of with Celestial Lineage for another exercise in black metal is yet to be seen, but there are enough shining moments here to suggest another go at this sound could yield great results.

6.75/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 8 of 8
10:10 AM on 07/24/14
#2
ParkwayTom
Forgive me, Nashville
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Solid review. I really like the music on the album as a whole, but the fact that they didn't expand on Celestial Lineage disappointed me. That album rips. Still, it's cool that they're not afraid to change it up and I think the good outweighs the bad.
10:33 AM on 07/24/14
#3
red8ge
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"and as a matter of fact it's a trick right out of Burzum's book."

i get what you're saying with this, but idk it doesn't feel like it's the same because varg was in prison and had no access to other stuff? also those burzum albums were baad

but good review otherwise (thumbs up emoji)
10:39 AM on 07/24/14
#4
Jake Jenkins
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"and as a matter of fact it's a trick right out of Burzum's book."

i get what you're saying with this, but idk it doesn't feel like it's the same because varg was in prison and had no access to other stuff? also those burzum albums were baad

but good review otherwise (thumbs up emoji)
yeah i thought about mentioning that, but didn't burzum put out another ambient record after being released?
10:45 AM on 07/24/14
#5
red8ge
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yeah i thought about mentioning that, but didn't burzum put out another ambient record after being released?
oh, i guess so haha. i sort of stopped paying attention to him after fallen

ignore me then lol
10:46 AM on 07/24/14
#6
Jake Jenkins
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oh, i guess so haha. i sort of stopped paying attention to him after fallen

ignore me then lol
haha yeah i just looked it up, i remember reading about it somewhere a little bit ago. i stopped paying attention too

on a different but similar note, ive heard good things about the new mayhem that came out earlier this year, but ive yet to check it out
12:31 PM on 07/24/14
#7
swboyd
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This might be my most disappointing release of the year so far. It's not terrible, but Celestial Lineage and Black Cascade rip. I'm not a fan of this change in direction, but props to them for trying something new.
01:50 PM on 07/24/14
#8
ParkwayTom
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This might be my most disappointing release of the year so far. It's not terrible, but Celestial Lineage and Black Cascade rip. I'm not a fan of this change in direction, but props to them for trying something new.
I'm on my third listen and it's really growing on me for what it is. I'm a bigger fan of Celestial Lineage, obviously, but if you listen to it the way the review describes it and hear it as Celestial Lineage without the drums or vocals it makes a lot more sense. Also, I get the feeling that this direction is a one off for them. If it was released as a "companion album" to Celestial Lineage then I think they'll get back to their normal sound once this story is finished and they start a new one.

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