I’m not sure why it took me so long to get into the Pacific Northwest’s black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room. At the time I had Agalloch in heavy rotation, and it may be that Wolves were just a touch too close to Darkthrone for me to easily embrace. I remember times when I would listen to Celestial Lineage, entranced. But the album as a whole hadn’t taken me in. Looking back, I’m ashamed, given how flawless Celesital Lineage is. Perhaps this is an instance of a larger phenomenon: we are only able to truly appreciate love in hindsight. In the moment, as it does its work, we are generally blind to its claim.
I finally acquired their second album, Two Hunters, and am captivated. Their first, Diadem of 12 Stars, I enjoy, but find it immature. They play too fast, too frenetic—as if they are consciously trying to place themselves in the lineage of a high-speed child of Darkthrone and Ulver. The drumming especially is sloppy and, frankly, inexcusable. Yet the nascent genius is there for all to see.
They are so good. Their first album displays their potential. Their second realizes it.
In contrast, I recently listened to Rage Against the Machine’s first three albums, and would argue, against conventional wisdom, that their first album is not only not their best, but their third best at most. It it too…boring. “Bombtrack” is a puerile song, and one listens in vain for much more beyond that. Only “Know Your Enemy” stands the test of time and finds its way into their canon.