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Review: Agalloch - Ashes Against The Grain
Ashes Against The Grain

Label: The End Records
Year released: 2006
Duration: 59:49
Tracks: 8
Genre: Folk Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: January 29, 2007
Reviewed by: Lars Christiansen
Readers Rating
Ashes Against The Grain

Rated 3.6/5 (72%) (45 Votes)

Being arguably one of the finest innovative underground gems over the past few years, Agalloch have taken their progressive/doom/ambient/black metal elements of the finest pedigree to the nth degree on this their third full length. To be honest, they needed to; what with 'Pale Folklore' and 'The Mantle' being such intensive absorbing listens, they had a lot to live up to. 'Ashes Against the Grain' exudes pure class throughout, with well-written and arranged compositions (note: compositions, not mere songs!), which never come close to becoming overtly introspective or solipsistic (although, leafing through the booklet one may initially be led to believe this, with the various band members pictured sipping fine wine, or looking wistfully into space whilst clutching an acoustic guitar).

There is certainly a more polished edge to this album when compared to their previous efforts, as well as a more progressive leaning which isn't detrimental in the slightest, helping to add to the overwhelming aura of longing for a return to times of nature; a pre-industrial age where landscapes and habitat were something of worth. Although Agalloch are very much their own entity, there are the occasional resemblances of early Katatonia or Paradise Lost that can be heard, albeit very bastardized and twisted into Agalloch's own unique innate style. The three part opus of 'Our Fortress is Burning' is possibly the most impressive the band have penned to date, epic and grandiose in quintessence, and burning with a fiery passion which many bands of this ilk can only dream of. There is also the odd curveball thrown in to keep things interesting naturally, such as the track 'Falling Snow, which ups the tempo considerably from the other tracks on offer, while still remaining to fit in perfectly with the rest of the album without once sounding out of place.

I hate to disagree slightly with Sargon, but to me it's quite clear that Agalloch are truly on form this time around, managing to sound as bitter as the fiercest blizzard, whilst retaining the warmth and glow of the welcoming hearth after the storm has passed. This may seem a complete paradox, but once you truly allow the album to sink in, you'll be sure to understand.

Other related information on the site
Review: Ashes Against The Grain (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Marrow of the Spirit (reviewed by Adam Kohrman)
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Review: Pale Folklore (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Pale Folklore (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Mantle (reviewed by Caspian)
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