PICK OF THE WEEK: Ancient forces amp Wolves in the Throne Room’s mesmerizing ‘Primordial Arcana’

A terribly disturbing report that just came out this week indicates our world is on serious trouble, and we humans have played a large role in accelerating the damage to where it’s at. None of this is a surprise as we’ve long been told these things, but to see this in such dire wording and to know we’re on the brink of no return is sobering and infuriating considering some still live in denial still.

Long champions of the natural world around them, especially the majesty of the Pacific Northwest, black metal dreamers Wolves in the Throne Room continue to jolt our bloodstreams and capture our imaginations with their incredible new record “Primordial Arcana,” their seventh but first for new label home Relapse. The title itself harkens back to ancient, archetypal energies that flow through their veins, but there still is a major foothold within the outside world, the place that nourished us for so long, a favor we have yet to return. The band—vocalist/guitarist Nathan Weaver, guitarist/vocalist Kody Keyworth, drummer/synth player/vocalist Aaron Weaver—manage to still unfurl magic unlike any other band in their forest of sound. After carving so many paths for atmospheric black metal, especially in this country, they still find ways to surprise and enthrall, and this record is an absolute gift to be cherished.

“Mountain Magick” starts the record, slowly ushering a spiritual vibe that is thick and ever present before great riffs unload and tangle you, pulling you into the heart of the song. Shrieks wail as the skies seemingly open as savagery rushes with great force, with synth sheets bringing a chilling texture, and the sounds rushing out into the wild. “Spirit of Lightning” starts with acoustic guitars and dulcimer, striking a primitive tone before the guitars open into a swirling storm. The shrieks hammer as tornadic hell touches down, sending winds, rain, and chaos spreading. Blood rushes as the synth sheens, the gaze spreads over the land, and the power haunts as the acoustics stretch again, and everything is swallowed into the heart of nature. “Through Eternal Fields” is ominous and chilling as it starts as the shrieks push in, and the guitars spread into melodic showers. This spills into atmosphere as the drums come alive, and then the burst happens with shrieks penetrating and turning savage. Tribal drumming emerges, the riffs slither, and everything disappears into a fog. “Primal Chasm (Gift of Fire)” punches out of the murk as the vocals unload, and the riffs zip around, with the drums clobbering. That crumbles into death-style growls that smother, and then things explode again with the synth cooling flesh, the guitars enrapturing, and everything sucked out into a vortex, with only chirping birds behind.  

“Underworld Aurora” runs 7:31 and starts with synth whirling and acoustics picking before the track is torn open. Beastly vocals make their presence felt as the power increases, soaring into the stratosphere as the music captures imaginations. A mesmerizing blur takes hold and makes dreaming possible before the power surges anew, folding in melody and violent drumming that ravages spirits. That chaos continues to increase until everything pushes into the cosmos, swimming in the stars. “Masters of Rain and Storm” is the longest track, running 10:44 and tearing open with the guitars showing meanness. The track crushes and gets muscular, trading ferocity with the woodsy folk moments and spacey synth that pays homage to the precipitation. Shrieks punish as the guitars boil dangerously as the blows withstand the acoustic beauty, the vocals blast through your rib cage, and everything builds up and detonates, sending its DNA into the atmosphere. “Eostre” is a quick instrumental outro track with a fluttering synth bed, a dreamy vortex that captures you, and a rush of waters designed to soothe and reconnect you to the earth. Some versions have a bonus track “Skyclad Passage,” another instrumental that delves into forest-embedded spirituality, trancey ritualistic passages, and angelic wonder that works its way into your skeletal structure.

Wolves in the Throne Room continue to mesmerize and surprise, delivering their most intense and personal yet on “Primordial Arcana.” You’re not just getting an emotional, spirit-rushing record from this band; you’re getting an earnest and intense connection back to the old times and the old ways, a hand reached out to the past to harness energies long forgotten. That is felt in every moment of this incredible record, one that I’m still trying to fully grasp countless listens later.

For more on the band, go here: https://wittr.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/b/wolves-in-the-throne-room

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords