Review – Wolves in the Throne Room at Venue, Vancouver, July 13 2014
– by Thalia Stopa
Sunday night, Wolves in the Throne Room made their third tour stop in support of their latest album Celestite at downtown Vancouver’s Venue. The show came less than a week after the release of the record, their fourth. A collection of ambient electronic-driven noise, without any vocal additions, Celestite is a departure for the Olympia metal band. However, for this particular occasion the band was less concerned with promoting their latest release than pleasing their fans. Brothers Nathan and Aaron Weaver never intended the conceptual album to be performed live, and kept to their black-metal roots for the 90-minute set.
The warm, hazy night extended into the Granville street venue which was sticky with fog. The stage was prepared with an air of ritual and mystery, in darkness except for a few coloured headlamps. Five black banners, each crested with a different forest creature loomed over the stage. A group heavily reliant on atmosphere, the Wolves played on a stage with three kerosene lanterns and, overhead, a criss-cross of orange and blue lighting.
Solid and giant, the three men nonetheless lacked the macho intimidation or bravado that I associate with the metal genre. Rather, they came across as trusty guides to the mostly young, mostly male devotees in the audience. The blue lights that beamed out from their guitar necks lit their paths through swells of lush metal landscapes. An underlying deep bass synth throbbed from out of the speakers, like some ambiguously benevolent underground life force. Each epic track built on its own individual trajectory and speed, but every one gave the impression of an arduous journey. Stolid and sure, the musicians led us slogging and sprinting through terrains simultaneously treacherous and awe-inspiring, accompanied by the occasional shriek, like some wild spirit passenger.
It was promptly midnight when Wolves in the Throne Room deserted the stage. The audience’s half-hearted attempts for an encore signaled that they too were ready to retire after their trek through the dark sonic wilderness.