Is this metal? Is this black metal, gothic metal, folk metal? I have heard it called grey metal–even post rock (gasp). Who cares? It’s great, whatever you choose to call it.
Prior to a few weeks ago I had never heard of Agalloch, but I was struck with curiosity as soon as I did. The first song, “Limbs” left me wondering just what the band was all about, but as I mention above, I had to categorize them. I forgot about categorizing and was overcome by the music itself. “Limbs” presents and atmospheric as close to its content as the band members could have planned.
After listening to their earlier releases, I am seeing in “Ashes against the Grain” that they have refined their compositional skills to a sublime level. Once “Limbs” starts, you cannot get the flavor of this album out of your head almost all the way to the end, if you aren’t asleep at this point. In this way, the band transcends from catchy riffs and hooks to atmospherics that enable you to escape into the ether, or whatever your imagination allows. You cannot play “Ashes against the Grain” on random; it must be from track 1 to track 8, or else you don’t get the full feel.
Each song builds on the next and tweaks the other, until you feel like you are in the forest, whispering to the trees yourself, that is until the end. Nothing happens really at the end, but I truly think that this is a fitting end for this record. Most metalers would want an album that starts with explosions and ends with explosions, but this album makes no allusions to being that kind of metal. What kind of metal you will have to discover for yourself. Enjoy…