Wolves In The Throne Room – Primordial Arcana (Century Media/Relapse)
When Wolves In The Throne Room’s debut, Diadem Of 12 Stars, swept down from the Olympic mountains in 2006, it changed the face of US black metal.
That album’s follow-up, Two Hunters, blew the scent of the Cascadian wilderness across the globe… and spawned hundreds of imitators.
Those days seem like a lifetime ago.
But as this record proves, the Washington state trio have never lost their ability to navigate the twilight between worlds, to plunge into prehistoric mists.
In Primordial Arcana, brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver, plus guitarist Kody Keyworth, offer a richly diverse album, one which unveils new sonic portals.
And as majestic as 2017’s Thrice Woven was, this opus feels more expansive and refined than its predecessor.
Primordial Arcana, which was recorded, produced and mixed by the trio at their own Owl Lodge Studios, is where Wolves In The Throne Room are today.
It’s not as closely tethered to the past as Thrice Woven.
And while the band are certainly no strangers to electronics, Primordial Arcana sees WIITR tie synths more intimately to their musical DNA. The most obvious example is found on the spinetingling Underworld Aurora, a piece which, despite its 21st century augmentation, hums with shamanic energies and pulls you deep beneath the roots of millennia-old forests.
Keyworth, formerly of Portland funeral doomsters Aldebaran, makes his presence felt too.
Writing with the Weavers for the first time, it seems like his grasp of true vastness flows into the album’s slower passages: the stunning Spirit Of Lightning is a case in point.
Yet despite embracing new dimensions, Wolves In The Throne Room remain as entrancing as they’ve always been.
Opener Mountain Magick bewitches with a torrent of blastbeats and enthralling melodies, Primal Chasm (Gift Of Fire) strides with the purpose of a Pleistocene beast and Through Eternal Fields reaches for a horizon of dark bliss.
Indeed, the more you pick your way through Primordial Arcana, the greater its magnetism.
And like the incredible body of work that has gone before it, WITTR’s seventh full-length crackles with the spirit of ancient earth.