Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestite (2014)
Wolves in the Throne Room have consistently released amazing album after amazing album, and "Celestite" is no exception. As Ulver did over 10 years ago, WitTR decided to try their hand at crafting an ambient album. Combining the influences of electronic pioneers such as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Brian Eno, "Celestite" is a brooding piece of art with dark, spacey atmospherics that sound like they were ripped straight out of an 80's sci-fi film (or even the soundtrack to "Interstellar"). As on WitTR's metal albums, the music feels organic, lush, and emotional. That is to say that their basic songwriting philosophy hasn't changed, even if the genre has.

My favorite track on the album, "Celestite Mirror," is as powerful as anything WitTR have recorded to date. Its grandiose, mysterious synths are backed by a choir of violent guitar chords, immersing the listener in an eerie, captivating sonic world. The bold, yet sparse composition of this track and "Turning Ever Towards the Sun" are, at times, heavily reminiscent of Romantic-era classical music, a fact made more apparent by the intermittent horn swells.

Those who need convincing should at least check out "Initiation at Neudeg Alm," arguably the album's most accessible and melodic track. It reprises the melody of "Subterranean Initiation" from "Celestial Lineage," thus making it recognizable to fans of the band's metal era.

The more I listen to this album, the more I'm convinced it's one of my favorites in the ambient genre. The cover is a perfect visual description of the album's sound: "Celestite" is the ideal album to listen to when virtually exploring the universe. While I still fervently hope they make another black metal album, I'd be thrilled to hear a follow-up to this one.


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