Live At Roadburn 2008 by Wolves in the Throne Room

Release date: May 10, 2018
Label: Roadburn Records

In April 2008 Wolves in the Throne Room played at the unique Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, Netherlands. They only had a couple of LPs under their belt at the time and this 10-year re-release of their live performance, Live At Roadburn, shows how, as a band, they leapt out of the box fully formed. Their older material has stood the test of time and is fully comparable in terms of quality with their more recent releases. For a band of the stature of WITTR, nothing committed to celluloid, digital recording file – or tape, for that matter – can compare with a live performance. A mere nod to the intensity of a live show is all the listener can hope for when contemplating a band that work at being a force of nature, almost literally in this case, in everything they do. I say this with all the bitterness of someone who has never seen them live – despite trying, one winter’s night, with snow a metre deep in the northern UK where I live, to reach the tiny venue where they were playing. Notably, they didn’t cancel, but a lot of would-be punters did.

Live At Roadburn consists of four tracks from the first two WITTR albums – three from Two Hunters and one from Diadem Of 12 Stars. Opener ‘Vastness & Sorrow’ has a full two minutes of droning atmospherics before the first chord is struck, and more than three before the blast beats begin. You can just imagine the anticipation in the crowd as the dry ice swirls and the intensity builds. There is an onslaught of tremelloed riffage that hits as the song reaches its full force. The tortured vocals of Aaron Weaver add to the wall of sound.

The beauty, as ever, with Wolves… is their pacing, the way in which they weave melody and stirring emotion into the maelstrom, letting it meld and work its way into the consciousness of the listener. For me, their early work does this best, and none more so than on Diadem Of 12 Stars. Listening to ‘Face In A Night Time Mirror’ is a treat, every time. Live or on record, Wolves in the Throne Room open up windows in the mind, letting your thoughts roam for the duration of each track. And this recording shows why they are such a highly regarded act, and have been for more than a decade.

This is a 10th anniversary edition with new artwork. As such there’s not much new here for those who own the original release, except to complete the collection. But for anyone who doesn’t own this landmark performance in an amazing band’s career it’s well worth a punt. And hopefully next time they come to my region it won’t be snowing.

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