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Ashes Against the Grain

4.6 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 15, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

ASHES AGAINST THE GRAIN

Review

AGALLOCH is the most important band in the United States and simply one of the best bands in the world. -- Keith, Metal Observer
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 15, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: The End Records
  • ASIN: B000GIW9H8
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,572 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rifugium on October 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Reviewgium - Volume I, issue XVI

I was never really familiar with Agalloch until just a few months ago, and to be honest, this is the first album I have ever bought by them. I have been meaning to pick up their highly-acclaimed album The Mantle for quite some time, but...well, I digress. Ashes Against the Grain...this album...I really don't know where to start on this one. I really have never quite heard anything quite like it before. It is hard to describe because it is really an incredibly unique alloy of so many different stylings; a mystifying potpourri of musical elements, blended to form a perfect "aural aroma." Perhaps the cover sticker described the style of the album best as a blend of "black metal, Scandinavian prog, and post-rock." But even this is not an apt description of the music itself. It is metal, yet not metal. It is sinister yet benign. Abrasive yet sinuous. Simple yet complex. Ugly and beautiful at the same time. It is as if God and Satan put aside their differences for just a brief celestial moment, sat down in the crisp forests of the American northwest, and made an album together.

The album is a sea of atmospheric acoustic passages, driving electric rhythms, and pristine solo figures, that all complement and overlap each other in a meaningful way. The vocals are dark and grating at times, clean and mysterious at others. It's not really fair to compare them to typical death/black metal vocals, because they are not really shouting, screaming, or grunting. Just dark and wispy, like an icy wind blowing through the fading treetops on a clear night in the early winter. As for the clean vocals, listening to them like hearing the reincarnated soul of an invincible medieval warrior from the 12th century.
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Format: Audio CD
It's been a long 4 years since Agalloch's last opus, "The Mantle". Since then, fans have been entertained with various EPs, Sculptured, ELS and Nothing...all of which has been good and nice, but it wasn't Agalloch. The waiting is over. Ashes Against the Grain is here, and it does not disappoint at all.

8 tracks long and clocking in at around an hour, this is an album you will not be pushing the skip button during. The album opens with "Limbs", which begins with a very post rock type intro. It reminds me of "The Lodge (dismantled)" off the Grey EP before an ominous acoustic intro segues into a standard Agalloch sound. As always, the band seemlessly weave folk music, black metal, post rock, noise, nature and everything else into an extremely cohesive and addicting mixture. The second track is "Falling Snow" which ups the tempo up a bit. Here, I will mention that the addition of Chris Greene on drums was an excellent choice. Greene does not miss a beat, and his playing is extremely stylish (not too conservative, but not too modest). "Fire Above, Ice Below" is the longest track of the album, and also one of the standouts. The following track is my favorite, "Not Unlike the Waves". Here, Haughm does probably his most intense vocal performance since their demo--very much in the style of Burzum. The song, as all of them are, is hypnotic.

The album closes with the "Our Fortress Is Burning" trilogy. Comparisons can be drawn to the "She Painted Fire" trilogy from the "Pale Folklore" cd. Infact, there is only a few seconds difference between the two trios. The first part is instrumental and sets the mood, leading straight into the second section of the song proclaiming "The god of man is a failure".
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Format: Audio CD
Agalloch, has done it again. "It" being the creation of another masterpiece. Agalloch, IMO, has forged a melancholic, sad, despairing, and yet hopeful brick of Grey metal. I am not pigeon-holing this band, I am saying that Grey metal is a distinct and clear vision that Agalloch has constructed. Is this as good or better than their previous records, well you the listener decide. On AATG, Jason Walton's bass is more up front in the mix, which to me is a good thing. The drumming has improved with the addition of Chris Greene. J.Haughm, however, played drums on "Not unlike the Waves" and "Falling Snow." The production is superb, as the mix has greatly improved with each release. The musicanship is filled with tension and release. I've had the special wood-box edition for 2 weeks now, and after several listens, I'm still hearing different nuances in the music. Brilliant songwriting. BTW, the wood-box edition is a burnished brown wood with Agalloch ingrained across the slip-off top. Very cool packaging. These guys are the masters at what they do. Which is convey their concepts of this world, and the condition of this planet we all inhabit. And let's be realistic, it really is not a wonderful existance. Music that makes you smile is very important, but music bringing about truth and a certain realism is also important. This is what Agalloch's music can do. There is sadness in beauty, and beauty in sadness. And that, my friends, is Agalloch's Grey soundscape.
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Format: Audio CD
An American metal band influenced by heavy European guitar music that doesn't sound like Iron Maiden or In Flames? With a "Loveless"-inspired album cover? Fascinating, Mr. Spock might say of Agalloch and their new record.

The sound is like Explosions in the Sky engaging in a (perhaps one-sided) battle with Celtic Frost in the parking lot of a cathedral. A reverse-delayed guitar aria begins "Limbs"-- skin crawls from the chilly reverberation of a war horn blown through a mountain range. The song swan-dives into a roiling sea of distorted guitar, piano-cum-acoustic-strumming, and even an evanescent "Something in the Way"-toned break featuring naught but a lone acoustic guitar with dead strings. Neverending blizzards of harmonic-stew guitar crunch bury the ears on "Falling Snow," combined with growl vocals that add rather than detract from the atmosphere of the track. Chorused guitar breaks provide pivot points for the song, and further texturize Agalloch's raucous, mind-bending distortion-fueled trance music.

No, not THAT kind of trance. The good kind. Mesmerization through the paradoxically warm earthiness of screaming guitar amplifiers humming and droning. It's probably the feeling you get in your gut standing under exposed powerlines at night for over an hour, gazing at your shoes.

The "Our Fortress is Burning..." suite gains more yardage into Explosions in the Sky/Godspeed! You Black Emperor's territory, treading out slowcore, post-rock guitar. But everything is sped up: the climactic build-ups crescendo or expire/regroup with the speed of a mutating viral infection, and the guitars don't stay shimmering clean for long. Agalloch's apocalypse came by disease rather than by war-born radiation.

In a very good way, this record is all over the place.
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