After what seems like an eternity of neither listening to nor writing about anything extreme, it is with great pleasure that I present ‘The Wolves Gather’, an 11 track onslaught from USBM one man cult Cryptic Throne. Driving and dripping with the blood of innocents, ‘The Wolves Gather’ is a strong release that should not be underestimated.

As one may expect, an inaugural cacophony of mournful wolves, howling at the midnight moon, initiate this release. Eerie and unearthly, although unoriginal, this forgettable title track sets the tone for a raw and aggressive release that weighs in at just under an hour. The six minute plus ‘Ascension’ hammers its double bass hatred for life before yielding to a melancholic, clean guitar breakdown that again gives way to more old school black metal madness that you can’t help but headbang to.

Where the razor edged guitars maintain good melodic structures and barre chord progressions, the album is also filled with instrumentals such as ‘In the Shadows I Lay I and II’. I found these two tracks rather unnecessary and a bit out of place, as opposed to the slightly more captivating instrumental ‘To Death and Beyond’, which includes discreet whispers and the toll of a distant and dead church bell. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff; luckily the ice-cold attack of ‘Ancient Hymns’ and ‘Dressed in Witches Blood’ prove the Scandinavian Spirit of Black Metal is still haunting souls, as these tracks pierce the heart of all non-believers without mercy. Closing the album is the black atmosphere of ‘In the Ruins…We Remain Thriving’, possibly a statement in itself to the power of a dark magick many dismiss as dead….

Without a great deal of new musical motifs being utilized, Cryptic Throne still raises enough hell to satisfy jaded black metal fans that have heard it all.  If Lemmy had wore corpse paint, there may have never been a need for half the bands we have today but there is a simple truth in saying that if something isn’t broke, don’t try and fix it. Summon Cryptic Throne, you won’t be disappointed.