Wolves in the Throne Room + Krallice
Thu May 21 2009
Photograph: Courtesy of Southern Lord
When modern black metal first emerged from early-’90s Norway, few would’ve considered it an avant-garde medium. But since then, the fervent, primitive work of that era, by acts like Darkthrone and Burzum, has come to be viewed as the most compelling frontier of rock-based extremity. Consequently, the genre has influenced countless experimental-minded musicians: Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))), prominent noise artist Prurient and even rootsy troubadour Ryan Adams. The upshot is that intellectuals just might outnumber headbanging diehards at this promising double bill of contemporary progressive-black-metal luminaries.
Wolves in the Throne Room offers a curious update of the neopaganism espoused by its forebears: Guitarist-vocalist Nathan Weaver and his drummer brother, Aaron, occupy a farm near Olympia, Washington, and have often expressed their commitment to holistic agriculture. You may not detect any back-to-the-land vibes in the band’s anguished anthems, but the Wolves’ latest, Black Cascade, does capture an especially expansive and spiritual mood.
Krallice (performing on Tuesday 26 only) is every bit as evocative. The local quartet includes Mick Barr (Orthrelm, Ocrilim, etc.), best known for dizzyingly ornate solo-guitar compositions. The group’s self-titled full-length—surely 2008’s strongest metal debut—features guitar miasmas so thick and haunting, they feel almost religious. Like its billmates, Krallice crafts a kind of devotional music for the damned.—Hank Shteamer