Wolves In The Throne Room Celestite Artemisia
Wolves in The Throne Room have never really been a black metal band, yet somehow they’ve found themselves being stalked by that all too ambiguous tag. Celestite is probably their most genre-dismissive work to date; they’ve eschewed drums and vocals in favour of rumbling, low frequency dark ambience and grim, humming pastoral folk, all created on synthesisers and down-tuned guitars to provide five lengthy tracks of theatrical meandering.
The newly condensed line-up of sibling duo Aaron and Nathan Weaver bears one obvious comparison; Stephen O’Malley’s drone behemoth Sunn O))). There’s something brighter about Celestite though, sharing more perhaps with O’Malley’s rare moments of ecstasy like Alice than his darker more recognisable material from Black One et al. Crystalline synth pads and pulsing guitar drones provide an atmospheric depth that resonates and actually rings truer to the brothers’ frequently chanted mantra (to create “meditative, non aggressive” music) than anything they have released previously. Celestite isn’t a complete departure for the pair though, they have retained the brooding intensity that has always been a part of their sound and extended it to new heights of almost unbearably stirring tension. Horns ring out over Ever Turning Towards The Sun, evoking a military march before Celestite Mirror builds and swirls; landscapes appear and waves crash. Initiation at Neudeg Alm even opens with some none-too-restrained arpeggiator usage. OK, yeah, sonically it probably is a massive departure. The album as a whole though? Well it’s not welcoming and it’s certainly not like anything we’ve heard from WITTR before but it’s intense and arcane, nearly New Age; an absorbing exercise in pensive synth led ambience.