Boomkat Product Review:
Absolutely spirit-crushing, mournful avant-metal from Wolves In The Throne Room, back on Southern Lord.
The band have always been superior operators in the post-black metal universe, creating moody sound-worlds that are rich in detail without shirking from the intensity that's the rightful bedrock of metal; navigating the earth-bound and the ethereal with real class. Crucially, though, they also have a shamelessly proggy sense of grandeur; witness the funereal theatrical chord progressions (not to mention the titles) of 'Thuja Magus Imperium' and 'Prayer Of Transformation'. 'Permanent Changes In Consciousness' is perhaps the most conventional thing here, a hail of punishing blast-beats, orc-ish screams and lumpen riffage, but it's still delivered with a heightened sense of composition and sound design.
There are some wicked ambient interludes: 'Subterranean Initiation', with its blend of ritualistic chanting, field recordings and bowels-of-the-earth drone, recalls master practitioners like Lustmord and Inade, while 'Woodland Cathedral' is driven hellward by an almost techno pulsation. Otherworldly vocalist Jessika Kenney, whose album of early music derivations was recently issued on Stephen O'Malley's Editions Mego sub-label Ideologic Organ, reprises her collaboration with the band which began on Two Hunters, lending her dulcet tones to 'Astral Blood'. Modern metal albums are rarely as visceral, complex and engaging as Celestial Lineage.