Wolves in the Throne Room's Two Hunters

Black-metal tree-huggers craft odes to the beauty and menace of nature

The second full-length from Olympia, Washington's black-metal crew Wolves in the Throne Room mixes (relatively) melodic guitars, field recordings, and drums that crash like violent raindrops. Recorded in analog and wisely leaning on Jessica Kinney's vocals instead of synthesizers, this is an original and raw-sounding album that somehow still remains devoted to its chosen genre. It's surprising, of course, for an American band to thrive in what was once considered an exclusively European thing, but when you consider the similarity between the cold, dark winters of Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest's eight-month rainy season, this success doesn't seem quite so far-fetched. Furthermore, like their predecessors, the Wolves take the style's ideals to heart: They allegedly live in the woods, grow their own food, and endorse such radical environmental entities as the ELF (Earth Liberation Front). Black metal has, at its best, sought to capture the wildness and disregard for sentimentality that typifies the planet on which we live and die, but as of late it's been bogged down in a sea of corpse-painted whiners with drum machines. Draped in fierce beauty, Two Hunters recaptures the untamed spirit that black metal is still capable of delivering, a 46-minute ode to nature as the ultimate usurper of man's throne.

 
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