Much has been made—mostly by the band itself—of Wolves In The Throne Room’s hermetic existence in the arboreal wilds of Oregon. Amid the cedars, the story goes, sit brothers Aaron and Nathan Weaver, communing with earth spirits and crafting ambitious, atmospheric black-metal hymns. The latest of those hymns is Celestial Lineage—and as great as the group’s two previous full-lengths were, Lineage is the first to truly, fully capture the Weavers’ unholy vision of sylvan majesty and pagan mystique. It’s also the first WITTR release worthy of the tag it’s been unabashedly striving for all along: “masterpiece.”

Casting themselves as warrior-monks chanting benedictions while honing their swords on blood-soaked whetstones, the Weavers wield “Permanent Changes In Consciousness” as a ghostly interlude—one that offers breathing space between “Thuja Magus Imperium” and “Subterranean Initiation,” two symphonic, multilayered epics that launch Lineage into cosmic orbit. But the disc stays tethered to terra firma; simultaneously earthen and unearthly, the closing track, “Prayer Of Transformation,” churns frantic dissonance, blackened ambience, and the choral aura of guest singer Jessika Kenney into a blur of ethereal sludge. Each shimmering chord is a crested wave; each blastbeat and bestial screech is administered with zealous conviction. If Lineage is the sound of Wolves In The Throne Room drinking its own Kool-Aid, get these guys another round.