Tuesday, January 17th
One reason non-metal dudes might like Olympia black metal trio Wolves in the Throne Room>"/>
Wolves in the Throne Room
Tuesday, January 17th
One reason non-metal dudes might like Olympia black metal trio Wolves in the Throne Room is because they give them something to talk (/write) about besides the music. The band's whole project of taking Cascadian Earth First deep ecology and imbuing it with the heft of Norse myth is conceptual catnip to a writer--add to that the band's actual semi-agrarian lifestyles, and the surging popularity of North American Black Metal set against the violence, racism, and overall intrigue of the original Norwegian stuff, and you've got stories that practically write themselves. Me, I had my review of this show all planned out as early as Monday: snowmageddon as potent reminder of nature's power over civilization vis a vis the ideology of Wolves in the Throne Room. Only, as of last night, no one was quite sure if snowmageddon was really coming. There was a buzz of anticipation in the room, but not a fleck of snow on the streets. Not to worry, I had a backup bullshit review planned for just such an occasion: Waiting for a wintry Ragnarok that never comes as revealing the aspirational, essentially fantasy element of WITTR's doomy nature worship. See, this shit is easy!
Really, though, the reason for all this dithering is that, when it comes to black metal, I am, admittedly, a total fucking noob, not even a dilettante fan (as with rap), and I feel like I hardly have the language or experience or proper analytic framework with which to judge the stuff. Are Wolves in the Throne Room great or shit? They can play, and between the two guitarists and drummer they can summon some righteous noise, those riffs rolling in over chest-punching double kick drum blast beats. They certainly set a dark, gloomy mood with their candles underfoot onstage and their long hanging black banners depicting trees whose roots grew and twisted into something like inscrutable black metal script containing seals that looked pretty Skyrimy to these untrained eyes. (Master Musicians of Bukakke also set a mood for their oblique "Orientalist" riffing, with fog and green lights and black robes and the odd "heil Hitler" gestures, presumably deeply misread on my part, from the guy at center.)
But me, this stuff bores me to the point of ducking out early--all the theatrical slow "symphonic" interludes and blast beats and sheer force of sound don't obscure my sense that this is pretty simple, repetitive music. (I know, an electronic music stan complaining about repetitive music, but there's "the Boney Joan rule" for you.) There might be a lot of extraneous stuff to grab onto around the band, but I didn't find much to hold onto in the music. So, yeah, I walked into that show a black metal tourist, I left still not really "getting" it. Feel free to tell me exactly why I'm a tin-eared idiot and what I'm missing out on.