The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Agalloch – Ashes Against The Grain
There are countless albums that have burrowed there way into my heart. These are the albums that stay with me through the good times and the bad. Either to heal a broken heart, to provide an outlet for aggression or merely for inspirational purposes. They remain in slumber and when the time calls for their assistance, they are there with open arms. Although I became a fan of this band late in the game, Agalloch have not only become one of my favorite bands, but their 3rd full-length album, Ashes Against the Grain, propelled me face first into a bleak but beautiful world, that strangely enough, I felt very comfortable in.
I came across Agalloch while randomly searching through the vast world of the inter-web. The band has crossed my path before, but I never took notice of it, and for that.. I suck. I could have had my mind blown at an earlier time, but maybe I wasn’t meant to hear them just yet, or quite possibly I wasn’t in the right state of mind to fully take in what Agalloch had to offer. Maybe it was the melancholic album art that caught my eye, or perhaps it was their blending of atmospheric folk and post-metal. Whatever the case, I was finally going to take the plunge and immerse myself in Agalloch’s sound.
What I noticed right away when “Limbs” came on was a very calm and doomy atmosphere that swept over the first 3 minutes of the song. From there on a dark, mystic acoustic riff calmly carried me into what was about to be an experience in music that I was so desperately craving. The music is heavy, dark, and soul-crushing, meshing the styles of post-metal and folk/doom that ultimately has one thing a lot of artists seem to be hit or miss with, emotion, and Ashes Against the Grain is not afraid to show it’s emotion.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was new to Agalloch and honestly I’m kind of glad that my introduction to them was Ashes Against the Grain. I had nothing to compare it too, as I’ve never heard any of their previous albums, so I was going in with fresh ears and was free to take it all in, and take it all in I did. “Limbs” instantly grabbed my attention and welcomed me in, but it wasn’t until I heard “Fire Above, Ice Below” and “Not Unlike The Waves” that I was completely won over. “Fire Above, Ice Below”, with it’s somber and melancholic aura that slowly builds up to an intensity of emotion with some of the most brilliant and memorable riffs ever, is what reached into my soul and gave me a feeling I haven’t felt from music in a long time. Hell, the last time I was emotionally connected with an album, was when Jane Doe came out. And the feeling didn’t falter after “Fire Above, Ice Below” ended, as “Not Unlike The Waves” came in and offered up a blend of heavy and light melodies, post-rock instrumentals, beautifully sung versus and angrily screamed choruses. Suffice to say, it had everything.
The remainder of the album is a three-part ending entitled “Our Fortress is Burning”. Even though it’s split up into 3 parts, it’s essentially one long track that is blended together by the use of drone-induced noise. The first song is purely instrumental and builds to the next two parts, “Our Fortress is Burning…II- Bloodbirds” and “Our Fortress is Burning…III-The Grain”. The first part of “Our Fortress is Burning…II” is all instrumental and seems to continue the building process that part one left off at. It’s not until the vocals come in that the song takes on a feeling all it’s own and further continues the building process. The final part, “Our Fortress is Burning…III” is different from the other songs on this album but seems to fit in perfectly. It is mainly a noise-oriented track with odd sounds, static, and feedback, at times giving off a psychedelic feel. And depending on the listener, this album closer can go either way, some prefer it while others feel it lacks.
But despite the way the album ends, there is no denying the immense emotion and anger that radiates in the album’s every moment. It’s an experience that has to not only be heard, but felt. And this feeling continues with every album of theirs I listen too, especially with their latest release, Marrow of the Spirit, which was one of my top albums of 2010. They have such a powerful aura that surrounds their music, imagery and words, that I can say without a doubt, they are one of the most influential bands out in the world of music today, and they continue to break new ground with each album they release.
Agalloch – “Fire Above, Ice Below”
Agalloch – “Not Unlike the Waves”