"BBC Session 2011 - Anno Domini"

(Southern Lord)

01. Prayer of Transformation
02. Thuja Magus Imperium

RATING: 9/10

Ambient metal duo WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM have yet to follow up their lauded 2011 "Celestial Warning" album, which has left unnecessary speculation of a potential split. Welp, consider it official that brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver are putting the final touches on a new album to be released in 2014, so we'll go ahead and leave the door wide open on them.

In the meantime, the Weavers have released "BBC Session 2011 – Anno Domini", a recording of WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM's on-air performance done October 21, 2011 in the midst of their UK tour at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios. The seemingly metal-friendly studio has hosted other heavy guests such as CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH and BARONESS, and you have to consider it special when you find media corners of the world catering to such extreme tastes.

Playing the sprawled "Prayer of Transformation" and "Thuja Magus Imperium" from "Celestial Warning", WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM proves in a live capacity that metal (black metal, in particular) continues to yield space for evolution and maturity. As one of the finest acts of their ilk (to include NACHTMYSTIUM, AGALLOCH and CULT OF LUNA), WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM has transcended all correlations to black metal. Instead, they refine the genre's mandate of stacking searing walls of sound, instead bringing the ethos down in sonic cascades that allow for beauty to manifest amidst their dank plods and wailing screeches.

The live presentation here is remarkably accurate. Save for a couple of minor hiccups in the early minutes of "Thuja Magus Imperium", the delivery is beautifully presented and recorded, sounding almost as clear as the original source material. The guitars on both performances strike their proper levels and leave the appropriate echoing effects, leaving as hypnotic and subjugating a feeling as the recorded versions. The slow loop of "Prayer of Transformation" is sublime and noteworthy how the resounding aesthetics of the composition translates in the BBC studio, winding instrumentally in ostinato for four minutes before any trace of vocals hiss into play. In both performances, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM somehow manages to increase the reverb and distortion to magnificent heights it's a wonder what the BBC hosts must have been thinking by the opaque grandeur of it all.

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Perhaps "BBC Session 2011 – Anno Domini" isn't mandatory from the standpoint that the original recordings are sufficient demonstrations of WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM's murky opulence. What it achieves, however, outside of tiding over their fans through 2014 is to demonstrate how effectively the Weaver brothers can convey themselves in a somewhat unorthodox forum.


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