More (Metal) Guitar In The Monitor – September 2021

It’s time once again for our monthly look at the metal albums that have been in constant rotation in recent days. This month’s selections seemed particularly dark as the days continue to grow shorter and the nights colder…

Wolves In The Throne Room – Primordial Arcana
You simply cannot have a discussion about US Black Metal and not invoke the name Wolves In The
Throne Room. It goes without saying that the Olympia, Washington outfit are without a doubt one of the most important acts from within the USBM contribution to the black metal pantheon. So it’s with this context in mind that when I tell you this is one of their finest releases to date you should take heed. To say this was personally one of my most anticipated albums of the year would be a bold understatement, and with each song release I began to aurally salivate more and more at what this full-length album would potentially bring to the table. Wolves In The Throne Room have always been masters of atmospherics, and Primordial Arcana finds them once again at the top of their game. Whether they are in full-on blast mode, or ambling through mid-tempo passages, there isn’t a moment on this album that doesn’t feel cinematic in scope. Perhaps it was the band’s handling of every aspect of the recording process, but this album unfurls like a truly actualized vision, and that vision is one of ancient rites for the modern times. Throw on a track like “Through Eternal Fields” or “Masters of Rain and Storm”, darken the room, close your eyes, and you’ll be instantly transported to a place where senses are heightened, Nature speaks in tongues, and the Universe holds truths long lost to modern zealotry. This album is as much a spiritual journey as it is a collection of songs. Those who wander are not always lost, and for Wolves In The Throne Room their wandering through the proverbial (and actual) forests have yielded one of the year’s best albums.

Devoid of Thought – Outer World Graves
Italy’s Devoid of Thought have been turning heads in the death metal underground with various splits and demos since 2017. (We highly recommend their 2019 split with Germany’s Into Coffin.) The songwriting chops and musicianship have been on full display for some time. The questions that remained where, when would this band finally release a full-length album of their own and could they carry our attention through a long-player the way they did a smattering of tracks here and there. August 2021 wound up being the answer to the first question and a resounding yes is the answer to the second. Outer World Graves hits the scene at a time when death metal is once again seemingly entering a saturation phase. Much like the previous generation saw in the late ’90s and early 2000s the genre has started to churn out just as many imitators as bands whose albums are worth clamoring for. Yet Devoid of Thought have managed to slice through the white noise and gift us with an album full of intricate, spacey, and wholly memorable death metal. Whether they are running up and down their respective fret boards or weaving doom-like passages into songs (“Four Cerulean Ways” in particular yields a delicious death doom aesthetic for a large chunk of its run time…) Devoid of Thought are able to create an album that doesn’t immediately draw comparisons to bands that have done it before or simply done it better. Their ability to stretch the limits of what their own songs can do is impressive, and it’s this kind of calculated risk taking within how these tracks are structured that will make you want to return for more.

Viserion – Natural Selection
One of my favorite parts of this exercise is discovering and passing along bands that are new to me, especially ones that leave an indelible impression. Enter New York blackened metal outfit, Viserion and their debut effort, Natural Selection. Weaving in elements of death metal and grind, Viserion play a style of black metal that’s completely unrelenting on so many levels. This is the type of album that grabs you by the jugular and simply rips and tears until there is virtually nothing left. Even during stark sonic interludes you spend time waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the sonic whirlwind to begin anew. While not the most intricate album you’ll hear this year, what Natural Selection lacks in technicality it more than makes up for in sheer sonic brutality. This album has all the elements of a solid foundation for Viserion to continue to build on. Definitely a band worth keeping an eye on in the ever-evolving USBM world.

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