So, I got this as a promo RIGHT before the last issue of PE came out, and did not have time to write this back then. Bummer. It’s already been reviewed over and over again. BUT, I am glad I had some time to spend with this in the meantime. Even though this came out in September, I still want to write this review.
Some of the reviews I have already read have been mixed. Most good, some bad. One that sticks out in my mind is someone saying that this particular WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM recording is stagnant and not that interesting. I think that is an unjust and hasty assessment. Here we have a band who has reshaped black metal and inspired a whole new generation. I can see this statement being valid MAYBE because their sounds is always consistent and this person said that because they did not realize that this is the final piece in a TRILOGY. Sure there are some songs that sound like reprises old tracks from other albums but once again, this is a trilogy folks, and an epic one at that.
The album opens up with the beautiful vocals of long time and often (but not often enough) guest vocalist Jessika Kenney ( who has also appeared on recordings by Sunn O))), Asva and Eyvind Kang). This opening, though it is still cohesive with WITTR’s past work, has a slightly more dramatic feel to it. Upon my first listen, artists such as Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud and Dead Can Dance came to mind. And then the song blasts into what you would expect from them….ethereal yet driving guitars, with mournful leads layered on top, and trance like tribal drumming with of course the signature unearthly shrieks…..(yet not shrieking in an annoying manner like most bands of similar nature). One thing that sets this one apart is the unusual, at least for these fellas, psychedelic solo inserts…which accent the song perfectly. So there. No stagnation here, and this is just the first song.
I would also like to offer another layer of interest here. Jessika Kenney has been studying traditional religious music, and the track “Woodland Cathedral” is very much reflective of that. In an interview with NPR. WITTR’s co – founding member Aaron Weaver mentions that she has her roots in anarcho street punk, but is very much immersing herself in these studies….and apparently does not consider that a contradiction. This is something I find very beautiful. People coming from different angles and backgrounds, all bringing something different to the table to create something wonderful and innovative. That being said, this track really stands out not only from the whole album, but from their entire discography. It has none of the usual components of their music…..or should I say the basic “rock” or “metal” structure. Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud was mentioned earlier, and this song was the one that really brought that to mind. This is a track that truly brings to mind a vast forbidden dwelling of forest denizens , creatures and spirits thriving under a dense canopy of moss and trees that are also a part of the community, protecting them and creating this Woodland Cathedral. The whole album actually exhibits this.
Lastly, “Astral Blood” picks the pace up again and is also another track that, even though is consistent with the what most have come to know as the WITTR sound, is very different from anything they have ever done….it one of their heavier works ( at least in my ears) . I can’t even quite describe it as meticulously as I would like, and I feel like that alone says something about this piece in itself. Many listeners may not understand unless they have studied this band’s work extensively, but those who know their work well enough would understand that this indeed is an anomaly, and quite a welcome one indeed.
Celestial Lineage closes as appropriately as any trilogy should. “A Prayer For Transformation” is an epic track that is somewhat of a requiem, but not one of a devastating end but one of transcendence. There is a monumental presence here that really draws all of the elements of the album as a whole into a culmination of all of the emotions, sentiments and intentions presented here as a whole. Devastating and inspiring.
I feel like this whole album, as well as the trilogy essentially is about transcendence as well as a spirituality created by a collective of people who have a respect of many forms of art, music, nature and each others creative offerings, and will always look forward to more amazing works of art from them.
SOUTHERN LORD RECORDINGS