Wolves In The Throne Room – Primordial Arcana: Album Review

Wolves In The Throne Room return with a stirring offering of black metal for the soul.

Released: August 20th 2021

Label: Century Media (ROTW) / Relapse (USA & Canada)

Format: CD / Vinyl (multiple variants) / Digital

Wolves In The Throne Room are a formidable band. For two decades they have levelled landscapes treading their distinct path. Primordial Arcana, according to the band, opens a new chapter for the band.

Arcana by definition means ‘secrets or mysterious.’ On the title of Primordial Arcana, Wolves In The Throne Room say that this is a reference to the band’s ongoing reach back to the most ancient, archetypal energies. Black metal as a genre has always sought to evoke feeling and emotion in song; an aura if you will. Wolves In The Throne Room deliver this in abundance.

From the opening crackle that adorns Mountain Magick you are transported skywards. Blast beat drumming and tempo shifts in riffing make for brilliant variation. A lead guitar line sits pristine atop a slower tempo before the fury erupts once again. This is not your archetypal take on black metal with plenty of other flourishes and styles blending seamlessly.

Spirit Of Lightning has an Eastern tinge in the introduction. Cascading guitars and guttural vocals are elevated by exultant choir like sounds as the song gestates. There is a post rock feel to some of the sections of the music as the tempo shifts again between restraint and wrath. The Eastern theme becomes prevalent as the song ends melodically in a fit of ambience.

Vocally, there are snarls and growls throughout Primordial Arcana. The power and perfection in the delivery only heightens the tension and ardour in the music.

Wolves In The Throne Room

Through Eternal Fields opens with a slower tempo. It’s similar to something akin to music you’d hear from a band like Agalloch. It sounds truly huge as the layers build. Every aspect of Primordial Arcana has been handled by the band. Wolves In The Throne Room show themselves to be excellent in every aspect as the mix for the album, and this particular song, is sublime. The drums and bass hold everything together superbly as the guitars grow and fill out the sound. Through Eternal Fields is a true highlight of the album and the ending will have you holding onto your seat such is the majesty of it.

Primal Chasm (Gift Of Fire) takes an immediate darker route. A marching style of beat and an incorporation of brass makes a dastardly mix. The vocals are again vicious but there is an extra level of malevolence. If you want evil, then this is just for you. Underworld Aurora follows and keeps up the same aesthetic with more ambience and sounds of thunder taking over as the song moves to the conclusion.

Masters Of Rain & Storm opens in traditional black metal fashion. Blast beats, dense guitars and unrelenting tempo. The riffs that propel the song are reminiscent of Mayhem in their late 80’s pomp. Not one to stick to the rules, Wolves In The Throne Room shift the tempo in amongst the hulking ten minute piece. The bass is the highlight in the early parts of the song; there is a real exhilaration in the music here. Typically, for a piece so vast, there is an interlude. Acoustic guitars offer respite before another spurt of savagery. Synths are also high in the mix here – if you are after an aura and an emotion then look no further.

Like many of the pioneers of black metal, there is plenty of ambience here. Eostre closes out the album in such fashion. Named after the Germanic goddess of dawn, it is the calm after the storm and ends a triumphant album.

Primordial Arcana shows the excitement, bluster, beauty and fury that Wolves In The Throne Room possess. On this offering, the band deliver a succinct and splendid album.

Check out the video for Mountain Magick below.

Wolves In The Throne Room: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

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