Agalloch – Ashes Against The Grain

The rock that Agalloch plays is something that is not too far away from the emotive rock that took such a major role during the earliest parts of the 1990s. The first part of the opening track on the disc is instrumental, and this track (“Limbs”) allows listeners to be assaulted continually by different arrangements of the acts. Where some of the earlier sections of the track may sound closer to Sunny Day Real Estate, it becomes something closer to “Silent Lucidity”-era Queensryche before moving into something more progressive metal-ish.

The multiple movements during the track allow for the band to explore all of their influences and create something that is brooding and heavy without having to resort to the same style for an extended length of time. By the time that Agalloch breaks into a true metal like sound, it is over half-way done with the track. Even when Agalloch goes into the traditional black metal sound, the innovative sound of J. Haughm’s vocals strike listeners as particularly interesting, especially when tied together with D. Anderson’s guitars.

None of the tracks on “Ashes Against The Grain” are short by any measure (the “shortest” full track is nine and a half minutes if you count the three movements of “Our Fortress is Burning” as one track), but the band is able to keep individuals listening throughout the hour of the disc. “Falling Snow” takesa Agalloch to the next level, as the band is able to recontextualize double-bass petals into something completely different than what they have been on albums in the past. The drums perfectly blend with the guitar work, which is again some of the most emotive stuff that individuals can pick up on this disc. The fact that Agalloch can add a radio-friendly rock sound to their overall metal style is something that shows that the act is mature as all get out. This is their third disc since 1999 for The End Records, and the polished compositions on this album will be a delight to fans of the interplay between arrangements as well as those that just wish to rock out without stock for an hour. This act is what more mall-friendly acts like Cradle of Filth and Children of Bodom wish to be with their composition. Agalloch are simultaneously ready for the big time and a band after a critical listener’s heart; give this disc a go and I’ll be amazed if you are disappointed.

Top Tracks: Limbs, Falling Snow

Rating: 7.1/10

[JMcQ]

Agalloch – Ashes Against The Grain / 2006 The End / 8 Tracks / http://www.agalloch.org / http://www.theendrecords.com /

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