While at work a few years ago, as I was hammering out document after document in my cubicle, listening to Wolves in the Throne Room battle the sound of my fingertips hitting the keyboard, a co-worker popped her head in letting me know that what I was listening to sounded like “funeral music” to her. Of all the niches I’ve heard Wolves in the Throne Room get thrown into, I thought this one was the most interesting. I guess I could see where she was coming from to an extent — the mournful vocals lent by Jessika Kenney on Two Hunters wouldn’t by any means seem out of place as an accompaniment to, say, a roaring funeral pyre. That very element, in fact, was what really took that album to another level for me. So of course I was glad to hear the beautiful, haunting voice grace the band’s newest release, Celestial Lineage.

Fans of Wolves in the Throne Room have come to expect a certain quality hard to exactly decipher or pinpoint with each anticipated album. That sort of earthen and, at the same time, undeniably ethereal sound, which invokes visions of rain soaked forest beds, or cavernous ruins of a long lost congregation of mystics. Of course, I could be completely alone in these specific conjurations, but the fact remains that the brothers Weaver continuously deliver not only meticulously well-constructed pieces, they create an intricate landscape with each note, each chord, each painful cry, taking the listener to another realm entirely. Rounding out the trilogy set forth with the sorrowful Two Hunters, and followed by the more punishing Black Cascade, the release of Celestial Lineage is anything but anticlimactic.

The opening track, “Thuja Magus Imperium,” ensnares you with its melancholy prelude, foreshadowing the inevitable crushing blow around the bend — a fitting introduction to a both entrancing and vociferous album. The stage has been set with this track for seamless transitions throughout; a carefully crafted ebb and flow keeps the listener entrenched from start to finish, due in no small part to the oft over looked transitional tracks. Ominous, otherworldly chanting prepares the listener for the thunderous “Subterranean Initiation,” a track that even the most kvlt elitist could appreciate; its raw unbridled intensity only letting up for a brief interlude. The eerie familiarity of “Woodland Cathedral” leads you to what was for me, at least, the stand out track, “Astral Blood.” Whether or not this was intentional I’m unsure, but this song seems to be a near spot-on culmination of the entire trilogy.

In all honesty, I felt at first too many similarities between Lineage and Hunters. I would apologize for that fact, bu,t really… I can’t. In fact, upon first listen, it immediately brought back memories of first popping in Hunters in the dim-lit, beer soaked living room of an acquaintance, and taking it all in. (Not an entirely unwelcome flashback — in fact, I was glad to hear WITTR getting back to the moss-strewn roots I’d fallen in love with years ago.) But then I remembered — this is the climax. And I listened with new ears. I don’t know how else to express how I felt by the close of the album, just that… I didn’t feel cheated. Without being at all gratuitous, this album gives the listener just what they were looking for in a Wolves in the Throne Room release. Compounded by the fact that this album brings to a close an outstandingly well crafted collection, I was left appreciating Celestial Lineage all the more.

(4 ½ out of 5)


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