Agalloch “Ashes Against the Grain” (2006)

With four years since their last release (not to include a few hard to get EP’s) this album sees them return reinvigorated and moving forward almost as if no time had passed. To a certain extent this album picks up where their previous efforts left off. By taking the blackened folk-metal from their first full length “Pale Folklore” and mixing it with the more acoustic oriented “The Mantle” this album is a perfect illustration of what exactly Agalloch is musically.

The greatest disparity between this release and its predecessors lay in the mixing and mastering of the album. The guitars continue, as before, their interplay creating the musical foundation of the album, both mournful and uplifting. With the distorted guitars coming across slightly heavier and more omnipresent in the mix, while the acoustics intertwine within and without to make up an overall full and fluid sound. However, the real strength of this recording derives from the driving power of the bass and drums that carry each song forward with a forcefulness of purpose (instrumental interludes excluded, of course). The bass being very low in frequency, but well mixed, provides this album with its heaviness and wall of sound, not completely found on the two previous full length releases.

The black metal vocals are brought to the fore on much of this album, their raspy style giving it forcefulness and a smattering of angst while still keeping the overall mood of melancholia in its entirety. The clean vocals are again used to great effect, interweaving emotional emphasis into each sorrowful and exultant piece that one finds throughout this tapestry .

This is an example of a band maturing without a loss of identity. A band who possesses an individualistic identity in an industry and world which is becoming more a vacuum for musical individuality and personality every day.

If you have not yet heard this band (one wonders why) then this would be a great place to start. For those of you who have heard their previous efforts and do not yet own this, then by all means what are you waiting for, you will not be disappointed.



Release:  2006
Label:  The End Records
Avantgenre:  Naturally Epic Blackened Metal
Duration:  59:49
Origin:  Oregon, USA
Official site:
Review online since:  15.12.2007 / 13:46:16


01. Limbs 9:50
02. Falling Snow 9:38
03. This White Mountain On Which You Will Die 1:39
04. Fire Above, Ice Below 10:28
05. Not Unlike The Waves 9:15
06. Our Fortress Is Burning… I 5:25
07. Our Fortress Is Burning… II – Bloodbirds 6:20
08. Our Fortress Is Burning… III – The Grain 7:09

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