If you don’t know Agalloch, they make a sort of lightweight black metal with strong doom and some folk influence.
Their last two albums were already quite convincing, but I think with Ashes Against the Grain, Agalloch have truly found their legs. There is an all-permeating wailing melancholy that is expertly woven into all the tracks, yet never overpowers. That doesn’t mean the songs have no force. Some small, sad melodies of five or six notes still have the power of entire arias, as heard during Our Fortress is Burning, and there are enough heavy, pounding riffs all around. A very good mix.
The musical evolution from the last album is not **that** pronounced. Still, the songwriting seems more confident, compact and reflected. You truly get the feeling that this time, the band knows exactly where it’s heading.
Where earlier albums sometimes left you bored, the new tracks are very unpredictable. Every time you get used to a certain repeating melody, the song changes or interesting new elements are introduced. This works wonders against any boredom. The folk elements, by the way, were pushed back a bit to make way for more concentrated Black and Doom.
The production is again excellent, perhaps a bit clearer than on Pale Folklore.
All in all, I’m very pleased with Agalloch’s progress, they’re now somewhere on my list of favorite bands. I’ve already preordered the album and I hope the guys will tour Europe sometime, so I can stand in line for a concert 🙂