ALBUM REVIEW: Wolves in the Throne Room’s “Primordial Arcana”

ARTIST: Wolves in the Throne Room + ALBUM: Primordial Arcana + LABEL: Relapse Records + RELEASE DATE: AUG 20, 2021

After two decades and a plethora of releases, Wolves in the Throne Room have returned with their latest offering, Primordial Arcana (their first album via Relapse Records). This is also the first release in which all aspects of the musical compositions, as well as the recording process, were handled in-house by brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver alongside guitarist Kody Keyworth. The trio conducted all recording production, mixing, and mastering at their very own Owl Lodge Studios, located in Washington State. 

In true Wolves in the Throne Room fashion, Primordial Arcana is forged on a foundation of ethereal soundscapes and atmospheric melodies. Composed of eight individual offerings, with the closing track “Skyclad Passage” slated as a bonus track, Primordial Arcana is an exceptionally focused album. For the first time, Kody Keyworth was involved in the writing process from the beginning, which I believe has helped this album become one of the band’s most fluid offerings to date. However, Primordial Arcana is still very much a Wolves in the Throne Room album, as they have never strayed far from their roots. Since the early years, Wolves in the Throne Room has created a formula for song writing, tones, and production that can’t be mistaken for anything else but their own. Primordial Arcana is no exception to the rule. 

Primordial Arcana kicks off with the opening track “Mountain Magick”, putting the cascadian black metal sound that we all know and love on full display. Blending influences of early 90’s black metal with atmospheric riffs, mid tempo hooks, and triumphant drumming, Wolves in the Throne room have once again raised the bar for the cascadian metal scene. “Spirit of Lightning” and “Through Eternal Fields” continue the pattern of calculated buildups that cascade into precision blast beats and chilling screams. “Primal Chasm (Gift of Fire),” “Underworld Aurora,” and “Master of Rain and Storm” string together thunderous, doom breakdowns with haunting, symphonic breaks. Closing out the album, Wolves in the Throne Room meld together two tracks of symphonic soundscapes that will put listeners into a trance. The dark moods created by synthesized hymns coupled with the harsh aggression make Primordial Arcana another standout album for the Wolves. It’s an elevated approach to the Wolves in the Throne Room that we all crave. If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, I highly recommend doing so.

– Corey Smith

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