Thursday, October 22, 2020

Agalloch - "Ashes Against The Grain" [2006]

Artist: Agalloch
Title: Ashes Against The Grain
Genre: Post-Black/Doom Metal
Country: USA
Year: 2006

Track List:

  1. Limbs
  2. Falling Snow
  3. This White Mountain on Which You Will Die
  4. Fire Above, Ice Below
  5. Not Unlike the Waves
  6. Our Fortress Is Burning... I
  7. Our Fortress Is Burning... II
  8. Our Fortress Is Burning... III
"For twenty years the Pacific Northwest group Agalloch has defined what it means to combine influences from a variety of musical genres into one brooding, colossal, and cinematic sound that provides the soundtrack to existential themes concerning man, nature, loss, and death"

Agalloch is a band that need no introduction to anyone who's well familiar with that part of the 2000s American heavy music that isn't "core"-based. They have developed an unique style of fusion between atmospheric black metal, gothic/doom metal and neofolk (all 3 genres I love), which is sometimes jokingly referred to as "elk-influenced black metal" (a pun on the cover art of their album "The Mantle"), and it was one of the major sources from which the "Cascadian" black metal sound later developed. 

While this kind of sound was already present on their rather poorly produced debut "Pale Folklore" (1999), the core of their creative output consists of "The Mantle" (2002), "Ashes Against The Grain" (2006), and "Marrow Of The Spirit" (2010). Of those albums, "Ashes Against The Grain" is arguably the best, albeit it's definitely heavier and less folk-influenced than its predecessors. However, it contains that depressive wintry atmosphere that's also characteristic of the 90s death/doom scene, while the music is much more rich and fully deserves the label of "progressive metal" in addition to everything I mentioned above. There's not much vocals on "Ashes Against The Grain", which is lso a good thing, because the music is interesting enough on its own. Overall, this album is a classic and a definite must-listen to every fan of nature-inspired atmopheric black metal (although the actual genre definition would be much more complicated). If I had to compared it to any European metal release of the same era, "Omnio" by In The Woods would be the fist thing that comes to mind (and it's a masterpiece as well).

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