Despite a bit of a pause in programming, the latest installment of The Downbeat podcast with Craig Reynolds has certainly prove worth the wait. The guest for the most recent edition is none other than Wolves In The Throne Room drummer Aaron Weaver.
Set to commence the band's highly-anticipated Relapse Records era in Primordial Arcana, Weaver sat in for a comprehensive discussion detailing the album's development from concept to execution. Written, recorded, produced and mixed entirely by the Brothers Weaver (Nathan and Aaron) along with guitarist Kody Keyworth - his first complete effort with the band.
Tapping into the unsettling mystique of the green canopies and solitary forest trails of the Pacific Northwest, the band's ominous tone and superb artistry results in the kind of modern wave of black metal that resonates with even the most ardent genre purist. A potent mesh of sincere spirituality woven into commanding instrumental compositions, Primordial Arcana is a powerful show of the band's creative bandwidth and attention to detail.
Among the takeaways from the length discussion with Weaver begin with the kind of DIY approach the band has cultivated in recent years. Weaver explained that during the Thrice Woven era of the band, he took some time away from touring and devoted his time to tending to the logistics of putting out a record without any label support. What he found was that the trial and error method of learning how to execute such a tall task was big investment of effort and something he prefer not to do moving forward. It was part of the reason the band opted to let Century Media and Relapse Records hand the heavy lifting this time around.
Weaver also expanded on the notion of stepping into the role of producer and tending to the final mix of the album as a result of circumstance. In fact, Wolves had every intention of getting the album mixed by a professional, but found they weren't stoked on the result. Deciding to take matter into their own hands, the band completed their project all their own, achieving the sound they wanted from the very beginning and living up the old adage - if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. (Weaver also cited Death's classic Human and Morbid Angel's Covenant as the inspiration for the specific sound the band was looking to capture)
The conversation also dove head first into the notion of mysticism and spirituality. Clarifying that this isn't the kind of rabbit in a hat kind of magic, Weaver explained that he is very in tune with this dreams and often incorporates imagery he derives from his dreams into the physical world - be it in his videos and album artwork. The drummer would go onto to reiterate that what fans see in the media the band puts out, though it might be cloaked in a bit more wardrobe, is a sincere translation of who they really are on a day-to-day basis.
Sticking on to the topic of tapping into spirituality, both Weaver and Reynolds spoke of the personal practices they maintain and for Reynolds in particular, he confided how finding a practice that worked for him was a necessity over the course of the last year. Weaver further explained than the concept of magic and spirituality offers a sense of healing and personal nourishment that is invaluable. He would go into his meditation regime and detailed his daily routine and how that has served him well in balancing his personal life with his professional life.
Touching on weighty, transcendent concepts like acceptance, gratitude, and tapping into the metaphysical, the latter half of the Downbeat conversation further explored the person at the source of the artistry of Wolves In the Throne Room. The discussion about preparing altars, daily meditation, and being receptive to spirituality offered more insight to what Wolves In the Throne Room really is than the conventional music driven interview. Weaver's candid commentary, combined with the finished product of Primordial Arcana, make for a compelling conversation that reaches far beyond black metal into the cerebral nature of the genre that often goes unexplored.
As with almost every Downbeat episode, Reynolds eventually explored Weaver's music taste and found some surprises in mix. Weaver spoke highly of deathcore, particularly of the band Lorna Shore and expressed his appreciation for bands that do what they do well. While he confided that the category wasn't his culture, it was still very much something he can appreciate in terms of its artistry.
As for the music that has left a lasting mark on Weaver, he explains that Metallica is hard to disregard. Aside from the iconic catalog, Weaver offered high praise of Lars as both a musician and a businessman. He also included the trash genius of Sepultura and shared that he really enjoys Jonathan Davis and Korn. Delving a bit deeper, Weaver gushed of his love for Ulver, particularly the debut Bergtatt record. Rounding out his list, Weaver championed both The RZA of Wu-Tang Clan and J Dilla for their production, particularly, their drum patterns. He would go onto explain how, as a drummer, he still finds it difficult to figure out what the producers are doing and that makes the music so engaging and interesting.
From esoteric examinations of personal spirituality to hip hop beats on an MPC, this is an episode of The Downbeat not to be missed. Stream the entire conversation with Aaron Weaver of Wolves In the Throne Room below.
Primordial Arcana arrives August 20th via Relapse Records. Fans can pre-order the album - HERE