"The Malevolent Grain"

(Southern Lord)

01. A Looming Resonance
02. Hate Crystal

RATING: 8.5/10

It's in the CD Review section, but it's not a CD Review. By god, it's a vinyl release by everyone's favorite progressive USBM band WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM and it's called "Malevolent Grain". I must admit that I'm a latecomer to the WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM game. I've heard all the talk and read the rave reviews, but it wasn't until now that I was finally able to sink my teeth deep into one of the prolific act's releases. It is without hesitation that I can now state that I totally get it. The majesty woven and the darkness unleashed is breathtaking in both its beauty and its primal ambience.

"Malevolent Grain" is all about the beauty on Side 1, which features a blissfully hypnotic track called "A Looming Resonance". And I mean beauty and hypnotic in the truest senses of the words. Far from mind-numbing or sleep-inducing, the lushness fills the room and sucks you in for the long haul (every single time you play it) with a vocal approach that is not unlike some of ULVER's latter-day works. Jamie Meyers' (HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE) lilting vocals are just as soothing and serve as a fitting companion to Nathan Weaver's singing. The sound is organic and amazingly deep in feeling, considering the sparse, repetitive instrumentation. The last segment produces visions of a dark, cloudy horizon on a beach somewhere, with waves crashing onto the shore; the vision conjured in my mind one of the scene just hours before the invasion of Normandy.

Side 2's "Hate Crystal" is savage and pounding in the earliest of black metal traditions and yet there is an inherent serenity hidden within its layers. The fire is eventually contained and ultimately turns into as smolder. It is anything but an odd contrast to "A Looming Resonance".

The "Malevolent Grain" EP sounds as grand the first time it is played as it does the 10th. It is a stunning work of art and yet I've only just begun to scratch the surface of what WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM is all about. Next stop: the new full-length, "Black Cascade".


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