REVIEW: Agalloch – Ashes Against the Grain

This album has always been a favourite of mine; I hold it in high regard and think it is Agalloch’s magnum opus, a tough position to hold when compared to other albums in the band’s discography such as The Mantle and Pale Folklore. This is an album which can grip the listener for its almost 80 minute runtime (if you include the near 20 minute bonus track) despite having many tracks approaching the 10 minute mark and deserves the listeners attention from start to finish.

Stylistic, this album would fit best in the atmospheric black metal and post-rock genres and throughout maintains a complex sound filled with a mixture of droning electric guitar riffs and repeating acoustic guitars as well as impressive drumming in tracks such as “Our Fortress Is Burning… II – Bloodbirds”. Much of this album is also purely instrumental which makes the black metal vocals that bit more eerie when they appear in tracks such as “Limbs” as well as clean vocals on the track “Fire Above, Ice Below” which are sometimes delivered in a whispered style.

The production on this album is also a high point, the guitars sound organic enough to not create a strong discrepancy between the electric and acoustic and mix is also good with the vocals and drumming not being overpowering at any point. This all helps the album to sound as bleak as intended.

Picking favourite tracks becomes hard as this was clearly not mean’t to be split up, instead depicting a story however the opening track, “Limbs”, is definitely a stand out point, especially at the end of the track where a catchy guitar riff backed by tremelo melodies and thunderous drums help create the epic, beautiful atmosphere.

I think Agalloch is definitely a band worth checking out, even if you are not into the style as this album serves as part of an almost flawless discography.


Agalloch 1995 – 2016


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