The Diadem of Cascadia

It was just a few days ago, when I found myself tagged by a friend in a Wolves in The Throne Room‘s FB post. They said they were going to (finally) reissue their debut album Diadem of 12 Stars.

In that moment I was hanging out with my girlfriend, who’s not a metalhead at all.
I was clearly thrilled by such news. Of course she didn’t understand my excitement so I tried to explain her what it was like:
“You just can’t understand! They’re reissuing the best black metal album of all time! I have to get it! I definitely must own it!”

I don’t know how in the world I came up with that. You know, it seemed like in the movies, when the character says “I love you” to that cute blondie, without actually meaning it. But it always happens so suddenly, you know. The thing is I kinda meant it instead.
3,2,1…And let the shitstorm begins! I see the legions of trve metalheads arise to defend the real black art and declare the trve black metal masterpiece!
I’m not interested in these rumbles. So let’s just say Diadem of 12 Stars is MY favourite black metal record and we’re all good, okay!?


I firmly believe this album is special. For me is simply the first stone on which the whole almighty Cascadian Black Metal movement has been erected. Of course there are some honorable precursors (I.E. Weakling‘s Dead As Dreams or Agalloch‘s The Mantle), but in my humble opinion, Wolves’ debut full length is the original sound of Cascadia. Period.
Weakling crafted a huge intricate masterpiece, but it misses the folk-ish touch. Dead As Dreams is still too attached to the parental-memory of its Northern European ancestors.
The Mantle, on the other hand, is even too deeply inserted into the “folk side of the force” to be considered the precursor of this sub-genre.
To be thorough I should also mention bands such as Fauna, Threnos and Echtra for their sonic yet territorial closeness.
However, it’s not my intention to dig deep into this topic right now. We’ll have more time to do this with a dedicated article. I only thought to give you hint about the musical background in which this album was born.

In fact, now it is time to get back to where we left, hence Diadem of 12 Stars and its magniloquence (…with a bit of purple prose too).
, Aaron Weaver and Rick Dahlin adorned that harsh diadem with shiny and mysterious jewels, placed it amongst the misty woods of North-Western America and then started their ritual.
Melodies are in perfect balance with heaviness as the wild screams are leveled by the ethereal singing of Jamie Myers.

Surely, the greatness of this record lies in the ability to tell something in a way nobody ever did so far.
Face In A Night Time Mirror is the best, communication-wise. It has something deeply carved between its movements. A separation, and yet an union of both its quietest and heaviest parts. I always thought it had a sort of a downtime with the part 2. But when you’re listening to the album, from top to bottom, this weakness isn’t perceived at all. All songs, in fact, work neatly and cohesively together to form a unique piece of art!
As I like to imagine of all great masterpieces, this one is also always new and a bit indecipherable as well.
The catchiest moments of the title track as well as Queen of The Borrowed Light always preserve an indecipherable mist. And this is one of the qualities which will make this record an “evergreen” (if you can pardon me such a retro term).

That being said, I feel a bit stupid babbling around this record. It’s so famous that it doesn’t need any further praise. But let’s face it, when something thrills you, it’s hard to not get involved and let the words flow.

Oh, this year Diadem of 12 Starts turns 10!
Happy birthday then, and congratulations Wolves!

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About Matteo "Teo" Gruppi 120 Articles
TSL co-founder, co-owner, editor, CEO, reviewer, interviewer and writer. Basically I do a lot of stuff and I can’t get anything done well. I was born in 1991 and started loving music since 1981. Got my very first band in high school and now I play as a lonely dumbass in 3 projects: Chiral, Il Vuoto and |||. I listen to every kind of music as long as it is good and intense. Favourite genres include: everything as long as it’s good! (but also folk, black metal, 70-80’s rock and post-rock).

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