I’m going to continue to review some of the stuff I’ve found on other people’s best of lists. This one I found at the top of a list at MetalSucks. Agrimonia is a band I’d never heard of from Sweden with a new album (LP?) Rites of Separation. Seriously, I see tons of reviews come through my RSS feed. Did I just block it out or did none of my sources actually mention this release?
The album is in some sense post-black metal (actually, since that term is so vague maybe it captures everything being done here). Although it deviates from that tag a lot. For one, it is pretty highly produced. The guitar work is really clean in some parts, and the mastering makes sure everything can be heard. The guitar work is also pretty melodic at times, and not in some vague subtle tremolo way that pops up in black metal.
Overall, the album is really solid all the way through. The songs are all epically long, but they keep my interest start to finish because the songs continuously evolve and develop. I think this is the highlight for me. This band really knows how to develop material and smoothly transition between the parts of the songs. There are many tempo changes that could have been really awkward if done by less talented musicians. Even the “atmospheric” sections keep adding and removing layers to keep the forward momentum.
Without question, I can see why this would be a top album for someone really into this type of thing. Like I said, it is start to finish a solid, excellently made album that I’ll probably return to periodically. I just can’t get truly excited about it. There are isolated parts that are pretty exciting, but not really enough. This is definitely just a personal taste thing, though. Maybe that will change with time and listening to crappier similar albums.
Here’s a sample:
This next album I’m doing together because it maybe could also go under the label post-black metal. This one seems to have universal praise across the internet. It is Altar of Plagues Teethed Glory and Injury. I had almost the exact opposite reaction to this album as the last one. I can get really excited about what they are doing, but the album as a whole is a little touch-and-go for me. There are parts that seem to drag and lose me before coming back.
The term “post” is really warranted here. They use a lot of noise and effects. I can’t really tell if these effects are just distorted guitar drones or if they were whole cloth electronically produced. The thing that makes this album so great and I think the reason people love it is that this noise ambiance that permeates the album is not mere musical masturbation. They really take these effects as serious compositional devices.
The album gets really visceral and angry at parts. This is where this album shines, because it could have been just another post-hardcore screamer with some noise metal wankery in between. Instead, the noise effects aspect of the album are really well-done to enhance these angry sections and bring them up to a new level. If you’re investing something in the album while listening, then you will probably come away feeling something.
In “Burnt Year” the angry screams contain lyrics along the lines of “I watched my son die, buried.” It is really a chilling climax listening to a very realistic sounding guy who is about to snap due to the anger at an unfair world. My favorite track is probably the last one in which we get a Godspeed You Black Emperor style (yes, I know I used this phrase last review too) riff and build. But there are these subtle choral background things going on which are almost imperceptible but really make that section in my opinion. Then it builds to a chilling ending that reminds me of Exotic Animal Petting Zoo.
Overall, it is well-worth the few dragg-y sections, and I finally understand what the hype was all about, but I’m not sure this is top 5 material for me. Here’s a sample: