Wolves In The Throne Room – Diadem of 12 Stars (reissue)

Posted: 8 June 2016 in Albums
Tags: , , , ,

Artemisia Records – 17th June 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Wolves In The Throne Room have achieved that rare thing of achieving a substantial fan-base and widespread recognition, while retaining the ultimate cult status. They’re genuinely seminal, having reinvented and reinvigorated black metal, largely on account of the imagination they’ve displayed in their approach to the genre’s well-established tropes. Diadem of 12 Stars was their debut album, released in 2006 , and even now, it’s in a different league from the majority of the black metal being churned out in 2016.

Wolves in the Throne Room have always been about expanding the horizons of the black metal genre, and making music on their own terms, and their devastating debut clearly sets the co-ordinates for a monstrous musical adventure.

Originally released on a small DIY label and unavailable physically for many years, this reissued version has been carefully remastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service. The band redeveloped every photograph from the original negatives, creating richer, high quality prints in order to present the artwork as originally envisioned. In short, there’ much to get excited about. This is an album that deserves to be appreciated as conceived and envisaged.

The tale around its conception and evolution is one worth retelling, because the context matters. To save some typing I shall quote from het press blurb: ‘Written almost exclusively in a windowless, black room over the long dark nights of Winter 2005, Diadem Of 12 Stars was the first official Wolves In the Throne Room release and built around the reimagining of black metal as an ode to rain storms, wood smoke and the wild energies of the Pacific Northwest… Diadem Of 12 Stars is about lunar sorcery on Cascadian mountaintops and encounters with wild spirits. In contrast to the icy, razor sharp soundscapes of their 90s Norwegian forebears, the sound of Diadem is lush and ethereal, dripping with rain soaked moss and lichen.’

Indeed, what really stands out is just how textured and varied the songs are. It’s blistering blinding in its intensity. It shows all the hallmarks of classic black metal, in particular the dominance of the dense wall of noise guitar and the ruined, demonic vocals. But there are passages of exquisite beauty alongside the raging torment. The first track, ‘Queen of Borrowed Light’ is by no means a post-rock track, but detours into magnificent and luscious instrumental passages which are almost the very definition of post-rock. Weaving between different moods and exploring both an emotional and sonic range, it’s an intriguingly

Multi-faceted composition which immediately set Wolves in the Throne Room apart from their peers.

The opening segment of ‘Face in a Night Time Mirror Part I’ is remarkably accessible, almost a conventional rock composition, which feeds into a delicate acoustic passage, before, of course, all hell breaks loose in an earth-shattering tumult of ferocious angst. This is exactly as it should be.

‘Face in a Night Time Mirror Part II’ dredges the silt beds of the bowels of hell for an excruciatingly heavy fourteen minutes. It’s black and it’s metal: it’s the sound of purgatory, distilled and amplified.

The last of the four tracks, he twenty-minute ‘(A Shimmering Radiance) Diadem of 12 Stars’ is beyond immense: it’s not simply a matter of length, and I’ll refrain from making any puerile gags about girth etc. for a change. Instead, shut up and listen and let your jaw hang as it transitions from expansive prog rock to snarling, speaker-annihilating metal of the blackest shade. The shock and awe is, again, less about the album’s extremity but its range. It’s an outstanding and incredible album, and the passage of a decade has done nothing to dull the fact. And this more than justifies revisiting it now.

 

Wolves in the Throne Room  - Diadem

 

Wolves in the Thrown Room Online

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