@ Newcastle The Cluny, November 29 2010

Try not to think of the snow as a nuisance. Having heard countless complaints about the conditions, it’s about time its peaceful appeal got some credit.  What better way than to stumble in snow-dazed to a Wolves In The Throne Room gig?

The extreme weather suddenly shrouds the spectacle in mysticism and given the US band’s ardent environmentalism, this just felt right.

Unexpectedly on first, Sunderland black metallers Wodensthrone not only hold the heavy burden of heritage in their lyrics but upon reflection, also encapsulate the future look of British black metal. Black Moss was the crown in the set  to further confirm this.  While the echoes of a beautiful harmony wanes, the sorrowful melodic driving of lead guitar provides the foundation to a backdrop of shrill and spine shivering screams.  Granting the unfortunate fact that their set was shorter than expected, imaginations are left to wildly ponder the true potential of a band that already feel matured, despite only one full release to their name.

Anonymously clad in balaclavas, Khunnt are as extreme as their name suggest.  With an unusual five-piece consisting two lead ‘singers’, they divided the crowd in true marmite fashion.  Expelling anger in one quick burst is not Khunnt’s style.  Like a perpetually tortured entity, their frustration crawls out in the most agonizing, bone-grinding, existential struggle, echoing similar threads to Gnaw Their Tongues, but in a more doom orientated fashion.  If you really get these guys, then you’ll find a depressive yet mesmerising quality in their searing sound.

In full darkness with only a few lanterns and two glowing fretboards lighting the spectacle to come, Wolves In The Throne Room seem more at home, away from the scorched unnaturalness of a blazing stage light.  After making themselves comfortable in the desired atmosphere, they flung themselves from hazy anticipating ambience into a crescendo of coarse yet beautiful chorus.

Firmly distanced from the Satanist bandwagon and other prevalent traditional black metal values, WITTR focus primarily on environmentalism.  But it isn’t just this that separates them from aesthetics that might be now considered archaic.

Listening to them, the strength of their time shifts aren’t just tight, but the structure changes also clever.  After building a fountain of mature work, melodic openings naturally occur, overflowing with lush intense passages.

The venue complemented the precision that WITTR embody, allowing the three piece to the freedom they especially need to flourish as a live band.  From the sparse doom sections, to the hardened blast beats, Wolves In The Throne Room have effectively extended the semantics of black metal and, by pushing the boundaries we’re reaping the benefits of a refreshing and spiritual ride.

Calum Robson