Album Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Malevolent Grain


Besides hearing a song or two on a mix from a friend in the past, I’m really not familiar with much from Wolves in the Throne Room’s previous output and didn’t really know what to expect when I was introduced to this album this week. However, with that said, after hearing this two-song EP a couple of times, I think I’m going to have to go check out their earlier releases.  Malevolent Grain is the Olympia, Washington-based “ambient black metal” band’s second EP, a prelude to their third long-player Black Cascade which is due later this year.

Right off the bat, I want to acknowledge how much I reallllly love the sound on this album. One reason I’ve never gotten into black metal so much in the past was because the production always (for better or worse) sounded so thin and gritty that the musical appeal was totally lost on me. In the last few years, many black metal bands have overcome this trait and have released albums that are much more heavily layered than the cheap recordings of the early years, and I think the current activity in the USBM scene is evidence of this. Wolves in the Throne Room this approach of density and orchestration to another level entirely, Malevolent Grain has a sound that is as thick as ever with ferocity that is unmatched to boot. In fact, in many ways this album reminded me as much as (or possibly even more than) my favorite orchestral post-rock innovators like GY!BE  as it did of the scathing black metal of Mayhem, Gorgoroth, or Burzum.  To be fair though, many of these bands are now dead or dying. Wolves in the Throne Room are now in a league of their own, following their own vision and innovating on the headbanging classics of these greats with some unparalleled epic blackened rockers of their own.

The album is divided in half, with the first song “A Looming Resonance” beginning the vinyl with a natural, folksy, brooding ambience. Eventually the orchestral buildup is aided by vocals from Jamie Meyers, and as her strong vocals resonate with a Celtic tinge, the song segues into a more viscious psychedelic black metal groove. The entire mix feels more removed from black metal than I could have imagined.  By the end of the song, the increasingly intricate dynamics and dense layering have taken this epic a soul-stirring peak that could replicated by few bands in the world (honestly, only GY!BE comes to mind..). “Hate Crystal” begins in much more tradtional black metal fashion with a blasting rhythm section, sinster riff, and wraith-like vox. As majestic as it is brutal, “Hate Crystal” was the perfect cap to my introduction to this band and faded this sinister EP out brilliantly.

(thanks to Bryan for borrowing the album!)

DIG DEEPER: Buy Malevolent Grain online! –  Official WebsiteMySpace

One Response to “Album Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Malevolent Grain

  1. […] Wolves in the Throng Room with be playing at the Triple Rock Social Club. While I’ve already mentioned the scathing-yet-epic majesty that is WITTR on the site, Krallice is a band that has not gotten […]

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