Wolves In The Throne Room's Aaron Weaver: 10 songs that changed my life

As the man behind the kit in transgressive post-black metal luminaries Wolves In The Throne Room, drummer Aaron Weaver offers more than just frenzied blast-beats; his percussive offerings every bit as vital to the shapeshifting nature of WITTR's sound as any other part of their elusive equation. 

We caught up with Weaver to talk 10 songs that shaped his musical taste and lead to the genre-blurring inclinations that ultimately made Wolves In The Throne Room so beloved. From 

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1. Behead The Prophet No Lord Shall Live - Soul System Black Out (Behead The Prophet No Lord Shall Live, 1995)

"In the late 90s, Olympia was home to a thriving and diverse underground music scene. Behead the Prophet was a Queer hardcore band...but that doesn’t really describe them. The singer, Joshua Plague, was the first occultist I was close to. Nathan [Weaver, Wolves In The Throne Room guitar/vocalist] and I ended up in a band with him years later. There was an ancient man in the band who played free noise on the violin. The shows were very wild.

One time I saw them play with [US doom metal band] Burning Witch and a very obscure black metal band from Port Townsend called Darkenwood. Tensions were high between the gutter punks and the redneck rural Washington state black metal contingent... This band Corvus Corax had driven up from the Bay to kill one of the local olympia punks over some beef they had. For some reason, they chose this show to be the scene of their act of ritual murder. The brawl between punks and metalheads (armed with medieval weapons and wearing armor) was insane and impossible to describe."

2. The Ronnettes - Be My Baby (single, 1963)

"One summer my family was living on a sailboat. I was about 6 or 7. The local 'Oldies' station was broadcasting from a building on a pier near the marina so the signal came in loud and strong to my little portable radio. This song is one of my earliest memories of music. Has there ever been a better sounding tambourine on a track? As a kid, tracks produced by Phil Spector and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys stood out from the other songs on this station. There was a depth and darkness that was intriguing. The ominous and dark undertones are unmistakable on this track by the Ronnettes, especially when one learns more about the madness of Phil Spector.

3. Mount Eerie - Wind's Dark Poem (Wind's Poem, 2009)

"Mount Eerie, the artistic manifestation of Phil Elevrum, is a masterful, epically deep eruption of true Cascadian magic. I listen to Mt Eerie and am given tools to see and hear the silent voices of our shared landscape more powerfully. I live in Olympia, at the base of the Salish Sea. I’m a land animal. So our music is grounded in the mountains, the mighty rivers that cut the slopes and the epically huge trees of the rainforests. Phil lives farther north, in the island archipelago that is scattered across a realm of salt spray, orca whales, and wind. The trees are smaller and tougher on these islands. The energy more insular, the atmosphere more celestial and ethereal. People use boats to get around up there.

So we are land people and he is an island person. We have different geology and flora around us. Our way of life is different. But the fog that envelopes us both is the same. It is the breath of the ocean that permeates everything around here. Wolves in the Throne Room and Mt Eerie are in conversation: exchanging treatises on the subtlety of different types of mist from our respective Cedar strongholds."

4. Weakling - Dead As Dreams (Dead As Dreams, 2000)

"The influence of the San Francisco band Weakling can be clearly heard on the first Wolves in the Throne Room record Diadem Of 12 Stars. This true West Coast black metal track is dense, dark, idiosyncratic and bizarre. Weakling seemed so much fresher and relevant than European black metal coming out in 2000. I later met the mastermind of Weakling, John Gossard, when WITTR was playing with his funeral doom project Asunder. He’s a true metal genius who has a totally uncompromising vision. Happily, it seems like Weakling are getting their due as pioneers in the US extreme music underground."

5. GZA - Gold (Liquid Swords, 1995)

"RZA is one of my top 3 producers and this track off of Liquid Swords is one of my favorites from the Wu Tang canon. RZA conjures such a menacing and magical atmosphere from the 1970’s Cannonball Aderly sample combined with the vocal lick from some obscure 60’s rock. Sampling is a big part of my creative process and I often use an Ensoniq ASR-10 which was RZA’s weapon of choice on Liquid Swords. So maybe there is a bit of 90’s boom bap in my arcane layers of sound, twisted and braided in a way to alter consciousness.

I really resonate with this era of New York rap. I connect to the Chinese martial arts, the wild philosophies and the occult science. They were making a completely new culture, one that was enchanted and vibrating with magical energy."

6. Morbid Angel - Rebel Lands (Blessed Are The Sick, 1991)

"When I was 16 I had a dubbed tape of Blessed Are The Sick by Morbid Angel. I definitely wore this tape out from constant exposure to the playheads on my Sony Walkman. I have a memory of laying in a tent in the mountains listening to this track... being swept away by the speed, creativity and brutality of the playing. Trey Azagthoth and Pete “Commando” Sandoval will always be huge inspirations for Wolves in the Throne Room.

7. Ulver - Hymne I: Wolf And Fear (Nattens Madrigal, 1997)

"Nattens Madrigal will always be my blueprint for utterly raw, atmospheric black metal. It was such a different time for me... music was so full of mystery and it was easy to be swept away into realms of northern myth. In those days, I was experiencing my own Cascadian wilderness with the sounds of Norwegian black metal as a sonic lens. The intensity of touching into the feeling, bleeding heart of the Earth could only be expressed through these extreme sounds from another continent. The mourning songs emanating from ghosts of ancient trees were always present in my mind. I was possessed in those days by these old spirits."

8. Windir - Arntor, Ein Windi (Arntor, 1999)

"Windir was on constant rotation in 2003. The ancient and rustic atmosphere of this music spoke deeply to us. I was living in a run down old cedar hall built by hippies in the 70s. The siding had fallen off, so I’d salvaged a large pile of very thick old growth cedar shakes out of a garbage pile and we were working to fix the place up. We would work at night, shining bright work lights against the building blasting black metal. 

This building ended up being the rehearsal hall for Wolves in the Throne Room. We had a lot of shows there too. It was in this hall that I met Kody [Keyworth, guitar/vocals] for the first time (years before he joined WITTR). He was playing with one of his old bands, Fall Of The Bastards. I like to imagine that this old cedar hall of ours would be a place where Valfar would enjoy drinking and merrymaking before heading back into the snow to freeze to death."

9. Emperor - Into The Infinity Of Thoughts (In The Nightside Eclipse, 1991)

"Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse was the first black metal I encountered. When I was 16, I was at a sort of CD rummage sale put on by the local university’s Radio station. I was thumbing through the metal section and I encountered a disk emblazoned with a woodcut image of helmeted Dark Age warriors engaged in vicious battle. There was no CD case or any other documentation. There was no album title or way to identify who the artist was. Just this mysterious disk. I paid the .99 cents and brought it home. Upon first listen I could tell this was something new...it crackled with mystery and a magical energy that was seducing and exhilarating."

10. Metallica - Enter Sandman (Metallica, 1991)

"8th grade, listening to Metallica's Enter Sandman on the tinny speaker on my clock radio. It was the first metal anything that I ever really got into. The Black Album is what it is, but for me it was a useful gateway to Metallica’s back catalogue and the wider world of metal. I often say that Lars Ulrich is one of my favorite drummers. I like that he is under-practiced, on the edge of falling apart at all times. Groove and feel is so much more important to me than technical theatrics. I also learned a lot from Metallica about songwriting. The epic song structures on Master of Puppets certainly influenced the way we approach our own long, slowly unfolding compositions."

Jonathan Selzer

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.