Wolves in the Throne Room - _Two Hunters_
(Southern Lord, 2007)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (9.5 out of 10)
For music to evolve, it does not necessarily have to expand in reach for something new and unknown, or to incorporate alien sounds. Sometimes genre introspection, an eye to tradition and genuine love and appreciation of the art itself is enough to bring outstanding results. _Two Hunters_ is the eagerly awaited sophomore album by American trio Wolves in the Throne Room, after the very well received _Diadem of 12 Stars_, and it succeeds in not only being an outstanding album, but also an effort that builds bridges between old and new, past and future.

Though the album stands with its two feet firm in the traditional black metal aesthetics, it clearly emanates much more complex aural and ethical idea(l)s. Dedicated to nature, indeed one might say -born- by its creators' love and connection to nature, the concept goes beyond the mere folkloric influences to a more raw spiritual understanding and appreciation of what surrounds us. The ascetic life of the band members translates to the music with a disarming honesty.

Genre influences can be distinguished in all four songs. The subtle atmosphere of _HEart of the Ages_ era nod to In the Woods... in the opening "Dia Artio". Ulver's _Bergtatt_ and Sun of the Sleepless' _Poems to the Wretches' Hearts_ grimness and blast beats in "Vastness and Sorrow". Even the very recent Moonsorrow album _V: Hävitetty_'s organic instrumentation in the eighteen minute epic "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots".

Not afraid of experimentation, the band sprinkle their album with extra touches. Avant-garde female vocalist Jessica Kinney contributes passages in two of the songs; the recording is organic, almost analogue sounding; acoustic and semi-acoustic passages are intertwined throughout; background keyboards that are haunting and atmospheric; and blast beats to die for. Guitars ebb and flow, sometimes creating such well structured nuances that one can only marvel at the result (the fretwork at the beginning of the last song comes to mind). And the hellish shrieking vocals are a constant reminder that despite the evolution, this is still fundamentally black metal.

At forty six minutes, _Two Hunters_ leaves the listener exhilarated and at the same time gagging for more. An intense and even thought provoking release, which is unlike most black metal albums of late. A mesmerising, touching, violent and ultimately fulfilling experience.

Contact: http://www.wolvesinthethroneroom.com/

(article published 10/21/2007)


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