Mikko Lehto isn’t exactly a stranger to atmospheric Black Metal. Since the inception in 2001, he has released six full-length albums with October Falls, initially as a solo project but since 2007 with a full band. But something in the forest inspired atmospheric and melodic Black Metal with acoustic Folk elements left part of his desires unfulfilled. And thus, Wooden Throne was created. A solo project once again, the first creation was ‘Under the Moon They Wander Until Fading Away’. This time, the deep dive into the realm of atmospheric Black Metal was rather different. Yes, the strong leading melodies were still present, but a much stronger presence of keyboards called for a more cosmic atmosphere, expanding the worship of nature to the night sky. And, ever so aptly titled, the second album ‘Eternal Wanderer of the Night Sky’ continues on that path.
Compared to October Falls, Wooden Throne walks a path that has much more room for Doom Metal as well. But rather than a melancholic tone to the music, ‘Eternal Wanderer of the Night Sky’ is an album that exudes adoration. Adoration of the grandeur of the sky above us. It’s only fitting that the cover image shows one of the most awe-inspiring phenomena we, if we are lucky, can witness when we gaze up into the night sky: The Northern Lights. And if music is successful when the listener is immersed in the world the musician wants to create, then one can only conclude that Wooden Throne’s second album does exactly what it set out to do.
The musical elements on ‘Eternal Wanderer of the Night Sky’, like the debut, exist of mid-paced atmospheric Black Metal that at times crawls into a Doom Metal direction. This is also represented in the raspy tone of the vocals, that borders on growls at times. The guitar riffs are somewhat more straightforward than October Falls, yet maintain a large part of the inherent melody in the songs. Simultaneously, the keyboards are both present in the background, but it’s the elegant piano melodies that set a large part of the atmospheric tone of what’s on offer. And in particular the combination of the more yearning sound of the piano and the dreamlike guitars together give this sensation of being amidst mountains and trees looking at the Aurora.
Compared to the previous album, I wouldn’t say these albums are world apart. The debut struck me as somewhat more epic in sound but otherwise they are fairly close together. What is different however is the pronounced use of pianos, which give the music a much stronger character. This works especially well in songs like ‘Autumnal Frost’ where a melodic lead beautifully balances the piano melodies, or the more uptempo ‘Firm Roots of the Scarred North’ where the piano goes up against faster tremolo picking. Atmospheric Black Metal is quite a popular genre these days, and these pianos help make the second album of Wooden Throne more memorable. Of course, they’re not unique, and for example earlier this year Voidwind released a gorgeous album in a similar vein (but with a greater sense of melancholy to it), but it does give ‘Eternal Wanderer of the Night Sky’ something extra compared to the debut.