Wolves in the Throne Room - Diadem of 12 Stars
Melancholic Black Metal
4 songs (60'39")
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

I was completely caught by surprise with this album, but I shouldn’t have been. Vendlus Records is forging its elitist creative path forward by signing little known, but supertalented acts. Wolves in the Throne Room embodies some of the best USBM has to offer, not to mention how I would like Black Metal to sound to climb on the list of my personal favorites. No crappy recording quality for the sake of being troo kvlt, no maniacal speed for the sake of being fast, no nonsensical Satan worship basically replacing one religion with another, no taking advantage of all the above in the commercial arena to score points off shock value. Fill in the blanks, if you care, while I experience another listen of Diadem of 12 Stars.

And another after another listen you will need to quench your desire to completely grasp the beauty of this album. It is not easy to listen to an hour of music, when the album is composed only of four tracks, but I do not recall a single album with such long compositions, and that includes Opeth, that kept me wanting to play it again and again.

Never Forest Metal term was applied so aptly. Describing Diadem of 12 Stars trackwise is absolutely pointless, these compositions ebbing and flowing freely through the realms of emotional tremolo powered Black Metal, nature inspired melancholy, heftier well-defined riffs and heartstopping funeral doom. Interestingly enough, it never gets boring while the album never loses its incredible melodic touch, something many in Black Metal keep foregoing these days. Drums on this album may sound minimal upon the first glance, but carefully woven vignettes reveal themselves upon delving in. Wolves in the Throne Room are also masters at shifting tempos, doing it so subtly at times it feels like human pulse variations. I swear I could enjoy this music without vocals, strong sweeping melodic currents of Queen of the Borrowed Light, growing guitar distortion adding layers of percussion in Face in a Night Time Mirror Part 2 and doom laden heaviness in the closing title track, but voices on Diadem of 12 Stars simply lasso you in. Dual male vocals are entrancing, as if engaged in the shamanic ritual, not very low in timbre, and not very screechy either. Female voice is used sparingly, as a few background points with a leading role at the beginning of Face in a Night Time Mirror Part 1, where she plays a bewitching queen of the mystic forest.

Powerful mystique is what defines Wolves in the Throne Room. It is everywhere on Diadem of 12 Stars. In the incredible melodies, in photographs by the night campfires with the naked forest goddess in the background, in the cover art depicting fall-winter morning by the waterfall covering everything with its foggy mist. The band says they are resurrecting the true spirit of the 90s Scandinavian scene, but along with Ulver I hear quite a bit of Woods of Ypres, Pale Folklore era Agalloch if it decided to concentrate more on Black Metal, In The Woods Omnio, and Morgion Solinari when it gets to doom passages. Diadem of 12 Stars is my Alcest Le Secret of 2006 so far – deep, emotional, mysterious and captivating. This album outxasthures Xasthur.

I first heard the album coming back from one of my many recent business trips, tired and despondent, driving through the night at 2 am in the morning among dark and unknown terrain. The timing alone was enough to give me the creeps; the music drenched me further with darkness, but strangely insulated my mind from the surroundings making it oblivious. Later on I learned that the bandmembers moved out of town to live in the rural area outside of Olympia, Washington. I once traveled to outside of Portland, Oregon and been to the Naval base in Silverdale, Washington. I cannot imagine a better place to live if what your mind creates is this damp elegant enveloping art.

I’d say Diadem of 12 Stars is a must hear, but if you choose to ignore it, all the better, as this will remain the hidden gem for the few who dared and embraced.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by Wolves in the Throne Room that we have reviewed:
Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestite reviewed by Neill and quoted 10 / 100
Wolves in the Throne Room - BBC Sessions 2011 Anno Domini reviewed by Neill and quoted no quote
Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage reviewed by Alex and quoted 76 / 100
Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade reviewed by James and quoted 86 / 100
Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
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