By Christine Leonard
It’s been five long years since black metal shapeshifters Wolves in the Throne Room last wrapped the stage in their dark embrace. Ending their half-decade hiatus with a tour of Europe and the East Coast of the U.S., the Cascadian metal act have proven as surefooted as ever in their return thanks to the natural healing powers of the verdant Pacific Northwest.
“All of us need a bit of time to rest and recuperate, and gather energy and inspiration,” explains drummer/bassist/synth-player Aaron Weaver.
“For my part, that meant walking in the woods every day and go swimming in the salt water as much as possible. I’ve come to realize that if your life is a fire that has everything in it then music is just the leftovers. So, it’s important to me to spend time really living life in order to really play our music from the heart instead of just going through the motions.”
Steadfast in refusing to be driven by materialism or the need to observe genre-prescribed iconography, Wolves in the Throne Room have traveled many miles since the appearance of their debut album Diadem of 12 Stars (2006). Subsequent releases on Southern Lord Records, including Two Hunters (2007) and Black Cascade (2009), aided in winning ominous repute for the band’s turbulent heavy metal epics. Elementally bonded through the sacred vibrations of Washington’s wildness to his spiritual-brother guitarist-vocalist Kody Keyworth and his biological brother (who is also the band’s lead vocalist-guitarist, Nathan Weaver), Aaron believes in bringing a little piece of heaven on Earth to every Wolves in the Throne Room appearance.
“It’s super important for us that the music emanates from a place. It emanates from our home. That the thing that first attracted me to Scandinavian black metal. It seemed so clear to me that such music could arise from no other landscape than a wild, and rocky, and forlorn, and cold northern landscape. And I love music that is stamped with the imprint of the land it comes from. It’s just a beautiful thing to me when the artists are specifically calling upon the spirit of the landscape to animate the music,” he explains.
“When we travel, it’s our intention to bring that spirit with us, which we do by burning cedar or sage, and by literally bringing objects from home to carry that energy, and actively trying to conjure the sprits that inform our music. Our music comes out of an interaction with Spirit; the spirit of the salmon or the spirit of the cedar tree. These totemic spirits that are so powerful here, where we live. And, it’s my hope to be able to share some of that magic with the people who come to see our shows.”
The mystical outfit’s fifth studio album Celestial Lineage (2011) saw the Weaver brothers drowning nascent folk and punk influences in a soul-scouring doom undercurrent. Launched in 2014 under their own label Artemisia Records, the follow-up album Celestite, was an ambient-synth experiment born of the lupine clan’s desire to return to the cavernous realms of their previous LP in drone form. Following their intuition, the band of brothers has recently adopted two new (touring) pack members, who share their monastic regard for yoga and vegetarianism, generating a fresh outlook on the practice of spreading their proverbial ashes.
“The biggest change we’ve got is three guitars on stage now, which makes a huge difference. In the past our sound has been somewhat striped-down and a bit raw, and we’re really excited perform a more fully-realized live sound,” says Weaver.
“The person who’s going to be playing guitar with us is a really old friend of ours named, Peregrine Somerville (Sadhaka). We also have an amazing woman, Brittany McConnell, from the Idaho band Wolf Serpent, playing keyboards and doing additional percussion.”
According to Weaver, audiences can (still) expect to join Wolves in the Throne Room on a cathartic and exhausting journey through heartbreak and triumph. George R.R. would certainly approve!
“We aim to create an immersive atmosphere, which means the everyday ‘monkey mind’ is put aside for a while, and we can just be fully in the present with the music, and give ourselves space to be surprised by the what feelings will emerge and what visions will arise. It’s a situation where space and time are going to be torn open. People may be inspired to go wild. There’s possession that occurs and that’s understandable and desirable.”
Wolves in the Throne Room perform at Dickens on June 23 during Sled Island.Dickens, Sled Island, Wolves in the Throne Room