Wooden Throne – Eternal Wanderer of the Night Sky Review

Some songwriters have ‘it.’ The ability to create meaningful, compelling music regardless of genre. Mikko Lehto is one such man. From folksy majesty and blackened ferocity to doomy potency, his work, especially October Falls, is well-loved in these parts. 2021 saw the release of more of his black metal in the form of Wooden Throne. Eternal Wanderer of the Night Sky represents his second endeavor under this project, promising something less earthly but more classical with a bigger piano presence in the soundscape.

All songs orient around a core of trilling guitar leads and blast beats with simple piano lines. Wooden Throne are primarily comprised of black metal but a slower tempo and stompier drums bring things into doom territory on “The Autumnal Frost” and “Talvikki.” The fusion of these elements yields moments that are musically sound but otherwise unremarkable. Eternal Wanderer does the thing that it sets out to do but in an imitative, uncreative way. The sound is packaged in a predictably roughshod aesthetic, with the lo-fi rattle of 90s black metal. The piano strikes out from the norm by being the loudest and cleanest instrument in the mix which does at least give the album a marginally-different spin on a classic sound. The piano files down the music’s heavier teeth but it carries the tunes reasonably well against the guitars.

However, these elements coalesce into a record that’s exceptionally directionless. The songs begin with little to no introduction, proceed through looping passages, before finishing in exactly the same place. Eternal Wanderer has no destination, and while this may be deliberate, it makes for a repetitive, unsatisfying listening experience. Only “The Autumnal Frost” and “The Earthly Womb” feature any type of conclusion that goes further than the verse simply stopping at the end of a bar, and only “Talvikki” has an introduction. Except for the 45 seconds involved in the combination of these passages, the tracks just cycle the same piano and guitar melodies with very minor variations. It’s far too easy to exchange any 5-minute passage with any other 5-minute passage. There are probably 10 minutes of different ideas stretched into a 35-minute album, and 2 minutes from each track is all you’ll need before they begin to drain you. I struggle to absorb anything else by the end of the second cut.

Wooden Throne haven’t built something awful, just bewilderingly static. They have some of the least dynamic songwriting I can remember. Even formulaic genres like modern metalcore will typically feature guitar solos, memorable choruses, electronic instrumentation; namely, details required to distinguish one moment from another. I don’t demand the most varied music in the world but I do want something to reinvigorate a record as it progresses. But on Eternal Wanderer, there are no standout riffs, no standout choruses, no standout instrumentation, and no standout creativity. It has all the basic ingredients required but none of the seasoning, none of the herbs, and none of the culinary flair required to convert a compilation of ingredients into a meal. Half-baked music sometimes has a curious charm but there’s little that’s charming about the simplistic, unsophisticated songwriting here.

At only 6 tracks that average just under 6 minutes each, you might think that Eternal Wanderer would be breezy and digestible. Instead the title rings remarkably true; the concise run-time meanders for much longer than 35 minutes would suggest. The featureless, repetitive songwriting presented by Wooden Throne results in a record that feels unfinished. Songs are constructed around a few musical ideas but the transitions and development haven’t yet been written. I can’t reasonably award anything resembling a positive score for an album that sounds so incomplete. Eternal Wanderer is a surprisingly drab release from an experienced songwriter.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Purity Through Fire
Website: Too kvlt for such trivialities
Releases Worldwide: August 25th, 2023

« »