Harvest of Darkness: Wild Throne’s Wild Ride

  • Kip Wingerschmidt

Welcome to the frenzied, raucous, deceptive, dense, madcap world of Wild Throne. This band from Bellingham, WA (just north of Seattle) certainly seems to smoke the good stuff and chase it down with something out of Walter White’s bag of goodies that amps everything up a few notches and makes the world burn a hell of a lot brighter. A bit too bright at times perhaps, but nonetheless electrifying and dangerously delirious.

My initial kneejerk reaction to Wild Throne was that the sound is so dramatically influenced by seminal progressive juggernauts The Mars Volta — although notably heavier — that it felt impossible to shake the similarities (especially in the highly pronounced vocal register/embellishments and several guitar parts).

But after umpteen listens and several sneaky hooks getting repeatedly stuck in my mind, I began to let the autonomy within what I was hearing seep into my consciousness. There’s an obvious comparison to be made here, but plenty of strength and value in their own right as well, so hopefully you can enjoy this album with unencumbered associations. It’s certainly time for some clever, passionate young turks to pick up the spazz-prog mantle, and Wild Throne seem poised to run with that role.

Harvest of Darkness (out now on Roadrunner Records) starts with a chaotic blast of fury which barely lets up for the first few songs, and the fair amount of dynamic lulls gets a bit overshadowed by the high-octane freakouts, which may be off-putting to some. Wild Throne feels like a live wire, a relentlessly loose cannon that could go off in your face at any moment — if you’re wearing a pacemaker, it was nice knowing you.

However, despite the fact that WT have more frenetic energy than any other band I’ve heard in a long time, the concentrated manner in which said energy gets hyper-focused is akin to a tweenager “abusing” his/her adderall prescription. Every moment of every song seems to have been meticulously planned then deconstructed then rebuilt for a particular, purposeful effect.

Another love-it-or-hate-it weapon in Wild Throne’s arsenal is singer/guitarist Joshua Holland’s aforementioned TMV-style piercing, wailing, high-register voice that could seemingly cut through diamonds with the greatest of ease. But girl can sang, and there are nonstop vocal treats here that extend far beyond simple melodies/harmonies — Holland has an impressive, explosive approach that is certainly expressed through the words but moreover in yelps, screeches, and even hushed whispers that continue to carry presence for days.

WT’s rhythm section is phenomenal as well; drummer Noah Burns purveys nonstop chops and flair alongside a thick sense of tasty groove, while bassist Jeff Johnson also finds an appropriate dichotomy between buttery, nimble low end fluidity and gnarly, perfectly-fuzzed tones in the heavier sections. It’s a testament to each member’s skill level that such dynamic contrast can not only coexist but work in tandem so well, even if the songwriting doesn’t always offer that sense of juxtaposition quite as smoothly.

Admittedly, Harvest Of Darkness is a thoroughly exhausting endeavor; it’s no easy feat to make it all the way through this mostly hi-octane, peak-first/valley-last endeavor without feeling worn out, but the workout definitely seems worth it. There is absolutely no denying the sheer force of Wild Throne’s relentless attack — this is arresting power that induces the kind of awe that’s impossible to turn away from, even if you have little idea what the hell is going on and why you are in fact bleeding from everywhere.

My heart is certainly open to falling more in love with this band, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

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