Portland rockers Agallochhave reached deep into the cold dark pits of their mortal souls and poured the black extract found therin into their latest album “Ashes Against the Grain.” Indeed there are few bands in the black metal/death metal genre(s) that manage to infuse their music with an emotionally rich sound and I am excited to report that Agalloch is one of that elite number. Indeed, Agalloch doesn’t just make music they paint landscapes with sound. Like their previous effort, “The Mantle,” “Ashes Against the Grain” is laden with mysterious overtones perfectly suited to a cold, gray winter morning. However, “The Mantle,” for all its triumph seemed to wallow in its own darkness. “Ashes Against the Grain,” on the other hand, is more diverse in both its musical and emotional content ranging almost equally between hope, beauty, anger and despair.
With songs that hover, on average, around the 8 or 9 minute mark Agalloch will never achieve a mainstream success. However, with solid songwriting and a sound that is wholly their own should endear themselves not only to longtime fans but to black metal enthusiasts the world around. Highly recommended.
Postscript: Kudos to the design of Agalloch’s web page (linked to above). Simple and elegent use of flash, comprised of obscure imagery true to the band’s style it is one of the better band websites I’ve seen in a while.