Review: Wolves in the Throne Room Defy Expectations with Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge

When it comes to Wolves in the Throne Room, there are generally two schools of thought: those who think the band are overhyped hipsters who make black metal look goofy, and those who think they are one of the best things to happen to black metal. I’m probably one of the few folks who finds myself in both camps.

When it comes to this debate, I can for sure see both sides. Over a decade ago, I once watched them play in a DIY venue and get really mad when the power went out because of a storm. I know they have a reputation for being a bit snobby and judging from their West Coast homestead. But I also know they’re incredibly skilled musicians, and in the grand scheme of black metal bands, not problematic, so I’m always willing to give their records a spin, and I wasn’t disappointed with this one.

Wolves in the Throne Room are back with an EP, Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge, out now via Relapse Records. While they present us with a short burst of music, by their standards, it also feels more devoid of thrills and straightforward, like they don’t waste a second on anything irrelevant.

The record opens with “Beholden to Clan,” a song that has a lot of symphonic elements. Those aren’t new tools to the band, but on this song, it comes across more like Satyricon instead of the more folky vibe they usually channel. “Twin Mouthed Spring” is definitely my favorite from the EP—It hits all the classic notes WITTR are great at, the soaring melody that compromises nothing when it comes to brutality and the straight-ahead delivery with notes of folk and symphonic music playing throughout.

“Initiates of the White Hart” is the perfect song to ring in spooky season, not too over-the-top with folk metal or symphonic elements, but with enough of that mixed in with the melodic, brutal delivery to give readers a full-spectrum experience. “Crown of Stone” ends things with an almost industrial burst of synth work.

When it comes to this EP, we wish there was more, but we hope whatever they put out next will be in the same vein. If so I, bet they’ll start winning over even more folks who used to think the band was goofy.

Wolves In The Throne Room’s Crypt of Ancestral Knowledge is out now.

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