Feature – A Brief History of Cascadian Black Metal

Above: Threnos live. Date unknown

The band believed to have ushered in the Cascadian Black Metal genre was called Threnos. The band released one demo during their short lifetime titled By Blood and By Earth (2004). Despite the few pressings made for personal pleasure and keepsakes, this demo was never pressed and distributed on a wide scale. Shortly after the recording of this demo, the band was to split. Since their breakup, the band has never reunited or reissued the demo for commercial consumption. However, the remnants of this band would go on to forge some of the most dedicated and extreme Cascadian Black Metal ever to grace the genre. Ex-members of Threnos went on to form Fauna and Echtra. The members of both bands are virtually the same, although the music created in each project take different directions from the other. These two bands are known for very long songs, featuring repeating motifs and ideas, that derive from concepts mostly involving nature. These bands also treat their performances as “live rituals”. Finally, the members of Fauna and Echtra also contribute their efforts to other Cascadian projects that are known on a much lesser scale.

Above: Fauna live. Date unknown

Below: Echtra

While Fauna and Echtra are considered to be the most extreme bands to carry the Cascadian Black Metal label, the most popular (and commercial) bands of the genre are widely considered to be Wolves in the Throne Room and Altar of Plagues. Wolves in the Throne Room come from Olympia, Washington (also home to members of Fauna and Echtra) and, since their inception, have participated in many national and international tours in support of more mainstream acts. They have sold multiple copies of their work and are vocal supporters of environmentalism and the Cascadian movement. Wolves in the Throne Room is best known for their albums Two Hunters and Celestial Lineage.

Altar of Plagues come from County Cork, Ireland. They hold many of the same beliefs as Wolves in the Throne Room, as well as similar sounds, lyrical concepts and ideas. Along with Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues has supported more mainstream acts on national and international tours as well. They have also sold multiple copies of their work on a global scale. Altar of Plagues are best known for their albums White Tomb and Mammal. (Note: Despite not belonging to the Cascadia region of the United States, the band is still associated with the movement).

Above: Wolves in the Throne Room live. Date unknown

Below: Altar of Plagues live. Date unknown

Along with the bands listed above, one can find many more bands within the region of Cascadia. For example, bands such as Ash Borer, Alda, Fell Voices and Velnias have all released stellar albums within the year 2012, each unique to their brand of Cascadian Black Metal. Each one is becoming more well known on the national stage of the United States and each one is helping to usher in the next generation of Cascadian Black Metal bands. Other labels that apply to this style of music include: nature black metal, ecological black metal and environmental black metal. These labels are all based upon the listener prospective and how the listener relates to the style of music. All of those labels are, more or less, correct to use.

Above: The official flag of the Cascadia region, the Douglas Fir flag

The region of Cascadia is slowly growing from an idea to a movement. The region of Cascadia includes Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia (Canada), Montana, and Wyoming. This region has taken steps to push for rights to officially name the region Cascadia and to break from the United States of America (or to function as a separate entity within it). Progress is slow, but the roots are taking and the ideas are spreading. With bands from the region at the regions forefront, it looks as if the Cascadian movement will have a place to grow for the foreseeable future.

Bands worth checking out:




Altar of Plagues


Ash Borer


Blood of the Black Owl

Destruction Ritual



Fell Voices






Moss of Moonlight


Sacrificial Totem






Wolves in the Throne Room

By Anonymous ~ Me Gusta Reviews