For the trio of commune-dwelling Olympians in Wolves in the Throne Room, black metal is only a vehicle for a message: The earth is totally getting raped. Still, it's hard to take that theme from their latest Southern Lord outing, Two Hunters, if you don't pay close attention. Indeed, picking apart lyrics when they're voiced by unintelligible shrieking is sort of daunting.
So, here, much is left to the sonics themselves. Through field recordings, and a sort of album-as-love-letter-to-the-elements (you can pick out the earth, wind, fire and water if you try), the record's message takes shape largely without words. In the end, Two Hunters is a hopefully horrible (horribly hopeful?) prophecy, a story of necessary apocalypse allowing for possible re-birth. The titular giveaway and album closer "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots" is the 18-minute culmination of an hour-long tale that seems to last forever. If only it could.
INDEPENDENT: You guys have a pretty deep respect for "the divinity of the earth." How is this song, in particular, about nature?
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM: Our music is concerned with the notion of apocalyptic destruction and rebirth. We believe that we live on the precipice of a major change in the way humans relate, as a race, to our planet and the greater cosmos. It would seem obvious that the modern way of life—one that refuses to acknowledge the intrinsic divinity of the planet, one that is driven be man's basest desires for material wealth—cannot continue for much longer. Either we reintroduce the sacred into the calculus of how our societies are ordered or we will be destroyed. This shouldn't be only the opinion of fringe dwellers such as ourselves. That most people go about their life unconcerned with the emptiness of modernity and the onrushing ecological disaster speaks to the insanity and the myopia that grip our culture.
Do you listen to any post rock bands?
I don't know what post rock is.
What are your thoughts on Neurosis? Did that kind of textural take on metal influence this track's commitment to length and movement at all?
Neurosis is one of our biggest influences and inspirations. I think that we have followed a similar philosophical trajectory: from nihilist anarcho-punk to an embracing of the occult and mythic energies.
There's the absolutely beautiful outro with Jessica Kinney. You seem to use female vocals where a lot of bands would use synthesizers. Why?
Most black metal presents an extreme, violent, archaic aesthetic. WITTR is more concerned with seeking balance, so it is important to us to represent the feminine divinity that is so important to us.
This song is really, really, really long. Tell me how you craft a nearly 20-minute epic like this? Do you conceive of one whole, or are there multiple sections that you attempt to string together and connect?
The song is best taken as part of the whole Two Hunters album. Melodic themes that are resolved in this final portion are introduced and expanded upon in the preceding sections.
Like Jessica's vocal turn on the track before it. So you were trying to write a more self-referential whole here?
Absolutely. We put a great deal of effort into the flow and dynamics of our record. It is our intention to take the listener on a journey through a mythic space. [This song] represents the aftermath of the spiritual battle that takes place earlier in the album.
Wolves in the Throne Room play Cat's Cradle Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 9 p.m.