New Wolves in the Throne Room EP

Malevolent Grain

We’re going to go out on a limb here: Olympia, WA’s Wolves in the Throne Room are easily the pre-eminent American eco-black metal band.

For those not already in the know, there’s been a emergence in the black metal world of a sort of “shoegaze” sound — much celebrated by indie rock nerds around the globe — found on albums from old hands like Enslaved as well as relative newbies of the nascent American black metal scene (see famous Alhambra, CA shut-in Xasthur). WITTR make such dark, My Bloody Valentine-style raging guitar buzz sounds from time to time, as well as switching between cookie-monster style grunt-growling and near-operatic arias of sometimes-singer Jamie Meyers. Plus they apparently live on an off-the-grid farm in the countryside. Arthur columnist Erik Davis talked to them about this for Slate back in 2007. Check out his interview here.

Where most Scandinavian black metallers are obsessed with, say, the outcome of 10th Century battles between Vikings and German Christian colonizers, WITTR are more concerned with pagan/environmental themes, adding a decidely fresh take on subjects usually dealt with in far more pastoral sonic palette. Epic jams like “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots” and “Hate Crystal” are rife with brutal imagery — just imagine the soundtrack to an especially grim Derrick Jensen lecture, perhaps?

Add all these things up and you’ve got a black metal band that you can actually talk to non-black metal people about, without having them suggest you take your conversation over to their younger World of Warcraft obsessed sibling.

Wolves in the Throne Room’s excellent new EP Malevolent Grain was released this weekend on vinyl, with a CD version soon to come. Check it out at the WITTR online store. New album Black Cascade due out later this spring.

More WITTR after the jump …

As it happens, the sophisticated visual aesthetic of the black metal community seems to rarely extend past arcane logos and/or makeup skills: You are thusly warned as we direct you to DOOMED TO BE STONED IN A SLUDGE SWAMP, an audioblog overflowing with erotic photoshop art featuring boobs, blood and weed. Amidst the cleavage and gore you’ll find a most excellent bootleg of Wolves in the Throne Room playing at the heavy, heavy Dutch Roadburn Festival in 2008. Check it out here.

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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

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