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ASHES AGAINST THE GRAIN

Agalloch

Experimental/Post Metal


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Agalloch Ashes Against The Grain album cover
3.83 | 173 ratings | 25 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Limbs (9:51)
2. Falling Snow (9:38)
3. This White Mountain on Which You Will Die (1:39)
4. Fire Above, Ice Below (10:29)
5. Not Unlike the Waves (9:16)
6. Our Fortress Is Burning... I (5:25)
7. Our Fortress Is Burning... II - Bloodbirds (6:21)
8. Our Fortress Is Burning... III - The Grain (7:10)

Total Time: 59:49

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Don Anderson / guitar
- John Haughm / vocals, guitars, drums
- Jason William Walton / bass

Releases information

CD The End Records (August 2006)

Thanks to ivansfr0st for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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AGALLOCH Ashes Against The Grain ratings distribution


3.83
(173 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
33%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
47%
Good, but non-essential (15%)
15%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

AGALLOCH Ashes Against The Grain reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Trickster F.
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The crowning achievement of Agalloch's career.

I must admit that at one point I disliked or, to say it more precisely, didn't understand Agalloch's music. The musicianship seemed primitive to me and I found the songwriting lazy. Still, during those times I could feel that this is music that requires a certain approach, or perhaps I was into different aesthetics at the time and it wouldn't impress me. My respect for the four musicians of this extraordinary group appeared when I re-listened to Pale Folklore in summer, of all seasons. Was it the perfect time to listen to that specific album or had it just grown on me and clicked just then I can not say, but the fact is that the group's not so immense catalog took an important place in my music diet. Their last album - The Mantle - was released in 2001, which was a long time ago, and it was intimidating that everyone would have to wait five years until the next offering of the quartet.

I always suspected that the spontaneousness of Agalloch's music could be explained by a belonging, conceptually, to a specific season and its typical signs. However, after first 'getting' the music I noticed that this is the music that I would feel comfortable while listening to during any time of the year - it seemed very appropriate and even timeless. When I had the luck to get a copy of the new album, there was a happy coincidence that I was in a forest remote from my native city, which made the listening experience even more engaging and intimate than it could have been otherwise.

Well, the grim landscape painters are back and on Ashes Against The Grain the four musicians/magicians of Agalloch have summoned the divine forces of nature once again. The distinct incomparable sound of the group can be felt throughout the album, making it an undoubtedly clear that nobody except them could make such a fine effort, yet the music here is so different from the two previous full-length offerings that even the most faithful fans of the group will have to relive brand new feelings again. Those who are familiar with the musicians are very well aware that their songwriting concentrates on creating a unique atmosphere instead of making their albums a display of technical prowess. This remains unchanged on the new record as well, although I wouldn't like to say that the musicianship can be called anything but impressive. The intense approach to songwriting allows the use of inspired and quite technical, though not for the sake of it, guitar melodies. The bass lines is a surprise on this record - one of my few complaints with Agalloch's music has before been the fact that I couldn't hear Jason William Walton's very well. Ashes Against The Grain improves this nuisance, because now you can hear his playing most of the time and his produced bass lines contribute to achieving the album's conceptual and musical aims. The drumming also seems to be an improvement to me, perhaps because the music has become more powerful and 'awake' than it was on The Mantle.

It seems to me that the group has taken even even a more Post-Rock influenced approach to songwriting here, that was already present on Pale Folklore and was developed even further on The Mantle. On the other hand, the group has not abandoned its diverse influences and there are still several parts that sound very katatonic and ulverish.

Limbs opens the album with a heavy and melodic post-rock intro, leading into an eerie acoustic guitar interlude, after which the music literally explodes in your ears and passes the alienated feel of the song to you. The riffs here are as memorable as anything I've heard in my life, and the vocals is only rasps here, which sound more determined here than on the earlier albums. When the music unleashes once again towards the end of the album after a quiet part, the sorrowful mood of the composition becomes so apparent, that no person possessing a heart will be left indifferent. A very solid opening track. Falling Snow follows, and it is a very uplifting one and can be considered to be the hymn of life, with 'happy' riffs and interesting lyrics. Before this track it would seem that vocals are now only used as a tool in Agalloch's music, which is true to a certain degree. Unlike the first track, there is also some clean singing here and the moment around the six minutes mark, the lyrics of which relate directly to the next track, is one of the most memorable of all the album. An eclectic, pleasant track. The next track, This White Mountain on Which You Will Die, is a short minimalistic instrumental, which is still quite interesting if judged separately, however, its main point is to prepare the listener for the next composition, album's longest track - the ten-minute long epic Fire Above, Ice Below. This composition can be considered to be a throwback to The Mantle in some way, because it is quiet, sorrowful and 'lazy'(in a positive way). It is the most gentle major track of the album, but it will bore no one - as the songwriting here as inspiring and many moments will stick out after repeated listens. Some 'retro'- moments appear here, such as the sounds of bells and gongs, which were used in previous efforts.

Not Unlike the Waves is when the album's unparalleled uniqueness begins to show itself completely. Starting with a 'drowning' riff that wouldn't sound out of place on an Isis's Panopticon, it explores folkier sides of music. What also is prominent is the harsh Burzum-esque shriek that can be heard a couple of times during the song, perhaps Haughm's most extreme vocal performance since the From Which of this Oak demo. People who don't like the extreme way of singing should have no reasons of being afraid, as the beauty of the music remains even with the presence of the this 'extreme' element mixed in, as there are expressive guitar solos and melodies here, as well as chant-like singing. If one stops looking at the shrieks as something unusual, it will be obvious that this is one of the finest compositions the group has ever written. Our Fortress Is Burning... trilogy is the last, and it is closer to Post-Rock structure than the other tracks. The first part, also the shortest, begins with delicate piano sounds, further evolving into a melodic guitar section with interesting bass lines. The vibe here is melancholic and depressing. It goes right into the second track, during which the album reaches its absolute climax. The melodic guitar melody right during the beginning of this track is absolutely passionate - it reveals your feelings and exposes them without hesitation and heals your wounds... This is as expressive as music will ever get. However, the Post-Rock crescendo continues from here onwards, reaching ultimate heights, joined by a raspy voice full of despair and protest until everything just explodes and the most sorrowful of screams in Agalloch's music are heard. Simply perfect. The third part of the track does not follow the same crescendo structure and is the most unusual thing the group has attempted to produce. This is a minimalistic, noisy track, that reminds me of 70's Tangerine Dream so much, that if somebody played it to me and said this was a lost B-side that never quite made it on one of the German Progressive Electronic pioneers albums, I would have no doubts that what I am told is sheer truth. Some may and will argue that it does not contain enough substance for its seven minutes, but I know better not to follow the ordinary views on structure in music and consider this to be an amazing end to a brilliant album.

It is irrefutable that this is the highest point of Agalloch's career and their most emotional, powerful, engaging and expressive release. It would be pointless to name exact types of listeners who I would recommend this to, as I can not recommend it enough - I suggest everyone to hear it, if you value emotional no less than technical skill and experience!

Simply put, a masterpiece that nobody has an excuse of not owning!

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Send comments to Trickster F. (BETA) | Report this review (#79856) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This one took me a while to get into, and even then, it still doesn't measure up quite to what I get from The Mantle. It's clear their influences have broadened, but the band remains true to the sound they've forged over the years.

I am a bit disenchanted with the first 3 songs of the album. They are the weakest of the work here, maybe they just never clicked with me but I am not all too impressed with them. I would advise to start with track 4 for those who have never experienced Agalloch and have a desire to get in the band. Fire Above, Ice Below, brings back memories of the aesthetic nature of Agalloch mixed with many post-rock elements. Not Unlike the Waves has an uplifting quality to it, similar to a style Opeth uses. Around 6:45 of the song an epic riff comes in which is my favorite moment in the album.

The closer is perhaps one of Agalloch's most 'progressive' efforts. With many experimental effects incorporated into the tradional Agalloch sound. Overall, this record is well-done, but I'm less thrilled about it than I had hoped. The band's sound is one of a kind, I just wish they would have taken a different course through some of this record.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#95573) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ambient terrestrial metal.

Here is the funniest description I've found of Agalloch, courtesy of D. Berger at Deadtide: "progressive neo-pagan folk extreme doom metal with a hefty does of industrial drone tossed in for good measure." I love that.

But I guess I'll call this ambient terrestrial metal: a hazy and enveloping sound experience with a decidedly earthy feel in both sound and theme. I have a growing collection of prog but nothing "feels" quite like Agalloch. Very heavy of course with violent undertones but somehow grounding and reassuring at the same time.

"Limbs" is a good encapsulation of the album as a whole with its lumbering beast of a riff and thoughtful acoustic guitar. There is a good amount of acoustic guitar on this album to counter the mega-chug sound. Yes "Ashes" features some growl vocals but I wouldn't be put off by that. They are used reservedly along with clean vocals to good effect. "Fire Above, Ice Below" is a real standout epic that broods and builds slowly as it takes you on a dark and fantastic journey through another time and place. Long and deliberate it is but never boring. It is followed by another standout in "not unlike the waves" that features the most gorgeous interplays between the electric and acoustic guitars and powerful majestic melody. Some complain about the final track "the grain" which is a space-metal noisescape of odd sounds and feedback. At over 7 minutes it will bore those looking for another "song" but really it's quite brilliant. It's a perfect piece of reflection on a great album and denoted with the following two provocative lines from the booklet: "The God of man is a failure. And all of our shadows are ashes against the grain." One of the most important things about atmospheric music is whether it can really transport you, take you somewhere else, as opposed to just sounding pretty. "Ashes" is an album that does that. It may not be a place that is particularly pleasant but it is interesting. The lyrics and artwork in the booklet are both excellent and convey the feel of the music very well.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#139922) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars In one of my other prog metal review I devided prog metal (globally) in two categories: prog metal mainly producing sound, usually quite slow not even really loud without an obvious song structure and often quite monotonal. Examples of this style are Tool, Anathema and Fates Warning. The other style is the one with a clear song structure, often making good or even great compositions in almost symphonic style. Very good examples of this line are Dream Theater, Symphony X, Shadow Gallery and Threshold.

The way I'm talking about this distinctiveness could tell you already where my preference lies. Indeed with the second style. Agalloch is to me another clear example of the first style, a style I am not too fond of to say the least. I don't want to go into the songs individually, this is more a case of overall sound and vein in which they play music. And I have not much to add to the story really.

I even think it must have been a tough call for the ballot of progarchives whether this band should be on progarchives at all. For instance there's a lot of grunts in the singing and besides little song structure I can't find much melody either which is also one of the features of prog metal, at least to me. This is more of a metal band to me. Last thing I want to say about this album is: dreadful last track, shows little respect for music. It probably has some kind of meaning and I'm possibly missing out on that but at least it makes the choice between 2 and 3 stars a little easier. It will be 2 now.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#149379) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Review by Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A friend of mine was surprised to discover that this band is NOT from Norway/Sweden/England or Finland. 'Are you sure they're USA guys?' he asked. Oh yes, I do sure!

From the very opening pompous 'Limbs' chords you know - this is Epic. And it's truly is. 'Pale Folklore' was rough and closer to traditional extreme Metal. 'The Mantle' was the crowning achievement in this sphere, and already had some Post-Metal tendencies. 'Ashes...', while being a little less melodic than 'The Mantle', is far more atmospheric and the most Post-Rocky one from all AGALLOCH albums. Each track screams 'epic!' to the listener, and it's all culminates in closing 19-min long 'Our Fortress is Burning...' in three parts. Ambient Metal, this is it. AGALLOCH guys have managed not only distance themselves from Metal cliches but also step into another musical realm. They're still immensely respected in Black/Doom/Folk/Pagan Metal circles, but now even Post-Rock/Indie fans see no evil in being AGALLOCH devotees too. Blurring the borders between styles and genres, AGALLOCH are more than suitable for ProgArchives - they're progressing further still apart from dozens of hundreds of bands stuck inside their own shells of manner-once-chosen. OPETH from USA? Listenable extreme Metal? I don't care for tags, but all I know is that AGALLOCH are superb. Make yourself a favour and try them. Highly recommended!!!

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Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars AGALLOCH's latest "Ashes Against The Grain" is heavier than "The Mantle" but there's still lots of atmosphere and they continue to use those sinsiter vocals with the clean ones. Something new is that Post-Rock flavour that crops up once in a while.

"Limbs" kicks in with drums and a full sound before a minute. It settles right down before 3 minutes then starts to build again a minute later. Sinister vocals after 5 minutes and a nice heavy sound. It settles again after 7 minutes then kicks back in. Sinister vocals follow. "Falling Snow" opens with a good heavy sound with prominant drums coming in. Some brief distorted guitar before the vocals arrive before 1 1/2 minutes. It kicks into a higher gear then settles back. Clean vocals after 3 1/2 minutes, sinister vocals follow. The tempo continues to change. "This White Mountain On Which You Die" is haunting with waves of synth-like sounds.

"Fire Above, Ice Below" builds slowly but it always stays releaxed. Clean vocals after a minute. It's more intense after 4 minutes though. Some Post-Rock styled guitar follows. Amazing sound before 9 minutes as the guitar lights it up. It sounds like waves and wind as it blends into "Not Unlike The Waves". It sounds incredible when it kicks in around a minute. It settles after 2 minutes but not for long. Clean vocals 3 minutes in. It settles before 6 minutes with some excellent guitar to follow. It kicks back in with sinister vocals. "Our Fortress Is Burning...I" opens with what sounds like a roaring fire in the background as the music sadly plays. Drums after 1 1/2 minutes. It settles 3 1/2 minutes in and blends into "Our Fortress Is Burning...II Bloodbirds". Drums come in quickly though to make a fuller sound. This sounds amazing ! Sinister vocals before 4 minutes cry out in anguish over what has happened. "Our Fortress Is Burning...III The Grain" is spacey to open before turning a little experimental with the loud noisy sounds. It settles somewhat but really there is no music on this track, it's a soundscape.

This is special music and it's easy to dismiss if not listened to in the right way and attitude. Still it's not for everybody.

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Posted Monday, June 29, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Ashes Against The Grain' - Agalloch (8.5/10)

This is Agalloch's third full-length release, and it signifies another development in the band's sound. While there is still ample amounts of folk music thrown into the mix here, there is not near as much as there was on Agalloch's crowning acheivement (and preceding work) 'The Mantle.' 'The Mantle' turned out to be one of my most moving, and profound musical experiences of all time, and while there is a much heavier, metallic sound here, I still hear the same, grief-stricken and uninhibited emotion here that made me fall in love with the music of Agalloch.

There is still the emphasis on texture and aesthetic here; don't get that wrong. The fact that the band uses more electric guitars now doesn't change the way they play at all. 'Ashes Against The Grain' does not work as an all encompassing album as much as a masterpiece should, but there are just too many moments of paralyzing beauty here that it would be unjust to give the music a rating of less than superb.

The haunting, almost-optimistic and resonating first notes of 'Limbs' really shows what the album is about. It's not about having a catchy chorus; it's about making an imprint on your heart, and being memorable as a result thereof. Anyone familiar with post-rock can expect something along the lines of a heavy 'Explosions In The Sky' with smatterings of acoustic instruments.

The main influence here (besides post-rock) is still black metal, and the vocals/lyrics are still the same, so if you loved or loathed them on any previous release, there shouldn't be any change expected.

The only true fault with the album is that it certainly does not mesh as well as it's predecessor. The ending 'epic' on the album also does not work as well as an epic should, although for what it is; 'Our Fortress Is Burning' is a fine collection of three very atmospheric and lush tracks. The album's closer is also worthy of note. 'The Grain' appears to have across many people as just being 'noise' and pointless. I actually found the track to be one of the most monumental and different pieces of music I've ever listened to.

The closest thing I can liken 'The Grain' to (as it sounds to my own ears) is an abrasive symphony of sounds, and it is all-too fitting as the album's close. Much of the album's content revolves around bleakness, and death; and the closing track sounds like death itself; coming to meet god. It is not human music as one would perceive it. It transcends traditional melody, rhythm, and form. It is best listened to at full volume with open ears. While it only took me a single listen to appreciate it, many others may not be willing to contend with something so 'noisy.'

'Ashes Against The Grain' is certainly a far cry from typical progressive rock, or even metal for that measure. There is very little showmanship here, although the musicianship is grand and thought provoking. Agalloch prove once again, that music is undoubtedly the closest thing the senses ever get to enlightenment. Majestic.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#245679) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars We recently got a breakthrough of Agalloch's Ashes Against The Grain in the Bonnek household. Meaning my beloved is digging this as well now, so I can play it at any time I want (sometimes I even get requests!), which is just fantastic because I would play this album all day long if I had the time for it.

It wasn't love at first sight though (the album I mean). It sure sounded interesting but at first I thought it to be too similar to Opeth. I couldn't be more wrong. Sure it has heavy and harsh parts mixed with gentle and melodic parts but the way this music flows is entirely different from Opeth.

What you get with Agalloch is an organic and spontaneous flow of music that goes through the motions step by step: it builds up tension and releases it, it works up from gentle atmospheric to big orgiastic climaxes. Opeth is much more mathematical: 4 bars loud, 8 bars of acoustics, 4 bars loud again 16 bars something else and so on. In fact, with reference to composition, Agalloch sits closer to bands like Anathema or Neurosis, who, even though they create very different music, they both share that same natural flow.

The reason I spent so long on that argument is because it explains why you need to sit through this entire album in one go. Each individual song is great by itself but together they build up to something that is larger then life. Actually, despite the sparse instrumentation this album contains the most epic music I've ever heard.

So I will consciously avoid a track by track overview. I have the impression that the Agalloch ratings suffer because of the difficulty to categorize them. People are bound to approach them with entirely wrong expectations and preconceptions. Still, some may be attracted nevertheless. The music is brilliant, the epic feel is out of this world but never bombastic, the chants are gorgeous and the production is at the same crystal clear, rough and organic. And I am quite sure there is not one other band that can be compared to them. What more do you need?

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Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review by Any Colour You Like
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The god of man may be a failure according to John Haughm, but this album is no failure by my standards. Agalloch's third full release, 2006's Ashes Against The Grain marks another twist in the evolution of the Agalloch sound. Almost gone are the full black metal assaults and folk-like acoustics of The Mantle and Pale Folklore, instead a heavy driving guitar tone propels the album towards the mountains at a galloping pace.

As usual, Haughm mixes whispered growls with cleaner vocal sections in an effort to allow the cutting lyrics to make even more of an impact upon the listener. The tone of the lyrical themes remain easily identifiable as Agalloch compositions, recycling themes of heathery, nature and paganism. Whilst this suits the tone of the music well, it does not develop anything substantial over previous releases. Of the tracks, several stand out; including the powerful and sometimes ethereal "Falling Snow", (which I may add, contains one of the best outros I've heard in a long time) and the epic riff monster "Not Unlike The Waves". The final two sections of "Our Fortress is Burning" are also very well done, combining typically dark Agalloch beauty, with an interesting and powerful ambient/drone movement. These sections help to give Ashes the Agalloch tone the band has become renowned for. However, there are several sections that grate with me somewhat. The opening track, "Limbs" and "Fire Above, Ice Below" lack a certain memorability that other Agalloch compositions usually ooze. They feel aimless, and while they carry the album well enough, both songs are far too long for my liking. Having said this, the album doesn't feel as long as The Mantle, and works surprisingly well as a whole given the few sub-par tracks.

I must again commend the lyrical content of the album, for it is not easy for vocals to portray the emotions that Agalloch's instrumentals develop. While Haughm's songwriting may seem somewhat stagnant compared to that of The Mantle, on overall reflection, the lyrics really do strike a chord with me. So, in conclusion, this is an essential purchase for all Agalloch fans, but I must warn that those wishing to 'get' Agalloch may do better to look elsewhere. Ashes Against The Grain is by no means perfect, it contains moments of sonic perfection, but it also contains some overdrawn sections that detract from the overall impact of the album.

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Posted Monday, January 25, 2010

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"Ashes Against The Grain" is one of the very best Agalloch albums.

Agalloch come back with an unbelievable, and extremely original album, "Ashes Against The Grain", the band's second best album, only to be second to "The Mantle".

Very different from the previous studio album, with "Ashes Against The Grain" Agalloch return to their Doom Metal style, leaving behind all the bleak, wintery folkish atmospheres and bringing up the spring, dreadful, but still dreamy atmospheres. The structure of the album is quite impressive and epic: almost all eight songs are long, and the three final songs are technically part of an even more epic song, "Our fortress Is Burning", which is acclaimed as one of the best Agalloch moments ever, even by me.

"Limbs" is a dark,long, and violent song, but with an epic and hopeful atmosphere that dresses it. Quite original in some moments, thanks especially to the beautiful guitars of John Haugm and Don Anderson, which always give a magic touch to the mood.

"Falling Snow" is a little more cheerful, even though the Black Metal vocals are a lot more present than the clean ones. Great chorus, great experimentation, this is another good one.

"This Mountain On Which You Will Die" is a shot instrumental, an interlude, that connects the first part of the album with the middle part.

"Fire Above, Ice Below" is possibly the song I least prefer; it just doesn't seem to be at the height of the two previous songs, even though the length of it would imply otherwise. Some moments are nice, but others just don't touch as much.

"Not Unlike The Waves" is probably my favorite song of the album. Everything of it is somewhat perfect; the chorus, the guitars, the verse, the experimentation, the vocals,the arrangements. Brilliant. No wonder they also made a music video for this one.

"Our Fortress Is Burning" is another masterpiece; in total, considering these three last songs as one, the length goes around twenty minutes; the first five are instrumental, very mellow, with interesting arrangements and arpeggios of the guitar. Bloodbirds(the second part) is maybe my least favorite, don;t know exactly why, since it maintains pretty much the same melody as before. The Grain is the third part of the song, like the first part instrumental, like the first part great.

There is also a bonus track, "Our Fortress Has Burned To the Ground", a sort of epilogue to the album. It's a nineteen minute ambient piece, with an interesting post apocalyptic atmosphere.

As a conclusion, this album really moved me, even though it has one defect; it is a little too long, and you get kind of tired of it. But still, I could easily define it as a masterpiece, a near perfect album.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#302201) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Review by JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars We have tracked Agalloch's progression through their EP's and albums, culminating in their absolute masterpiece, "The Mantle". One of the extremely few albums I would give a six star rating. So, what is a band suppose to do after something like that? Well, keep on moving of course.

With this album virtually all traces of black metal, (sans some vocals) have been removed, and polished off with a pristine sound quality. Much of the folky elements are also greatly toned down. The result is a more stripped down and straightforward Agalloch. This is their most post metal album yet, with lengthy compositions ripe with progression, builds, more riffs and nuanced songwriting than we've seen, and overall more streamlined feel. While this may be a natural progression, it thus lacks The Mantle's perpetual melancholy and bleakness. Think of The Mantle like a lake, while Ashes is a river.

With all that out of the way, this album begins strong with two of Agalloch's best songs, and the absolutely incredible "Falling Snow". A nice segue takes us into two nice post metal songs. "Not Unlike the Waves" has some great riffing and some true black metal high pitched, blood curdling shrieks. I'm talking out of Burzum's book here.

The album ends on a three piece suite, opposite of Pale Folklore. Really great stuff, and Bloodbirds is one hell of a powerful movement. Sadly, the album goes out on a lackluster note. More of a soundscape than a song, it is not bad at all but doesn't do much for me. I am sure it has its place and meaning, but just doesn't do it for me. Otherwise this is a pretty much perfect album.

Excellent album. Really, deserving of a 4.8 or 4.9 (but if it's not a 5 star than it's not)

bump

Four Stars

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Posted Friday, April 01, 2011

Review by Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Agalloch: Ashes Against the Grain [2006]

Rating: 8/10

Agalloch are a band who manages to create albums that are both individually unique and characteristically identifiable. This is a group with a specific style and method of music-making, but every work they create stands alone as an exclusive whole. This is one of the many reasons why their music is so interesting and powerful, and Ashes Against the Grain displays why. After the monolithic masterpiece The Mantle, Haugm and company had enormous standards to live up to. Thus, this album is not a mere recreation of The Mantle; rather, it takes the band's characteristic folk/metal dynamics and adapts them to a sort of long-form groovy ambience akin to post-rock. As with all of Agalloch's music, however, this is still an ethereal and atmospheric trip though dense musical caverns.

The spectacular 'Limbs' opens with a lengthy instrumental section focused on marching rhythms and acoustic/electric guitar interplay. The verses are equally as powerful, and the folk breakdowns keep the track consistently interesting. 'Falling Snow' is the highlight of the album. The most incredible element of this track is the groove; every idea flows together in a beautifully seamless manner. This culminates in the conclusion, which has to be one of the most powerful musical moments ever put to tape. The drum work also deserves mention; this has to be one of the best drum performances I've ever heard. 'This White Mountain on Which You Will Die' is a short and rather uninteresting ambient interlude. 'Fire Above, Ice Below' is the folkiest piece on the album. The electric guitar features an absolutely perfect tone, and the entire track is powerfully epic. 'Not Unlike the Waves' features an absolutely crushing main riff and some tortured vocals from Haugm. This track displays one of the things Agalloch does best: taking simple ideas and turning them into a compelling and complex final product. 'Our Fortress is Burning' I' is the closest Agalloch have ever gotten to pure post-metal. Dissonant piano and acoustic guitar accompany a simple yet effective driving rhythm. 'Our Fortress is Burning' II - Bloodbirds' continues with the post-rock vibe. This track's conclusion is absolutely immense; Haugm's vocals are at their most powerful here. 'Our Fortress if Burning' III - The Grain' is the album's biggest flaw. It infuriates me that they included this here. 'Bloodbirds' would have been such an epic concluding piece; in fact, it would have been of the best closing tracks on any album, ever. Instead of allowing this, however, the band tacked on seven minutes of white noise on the tail-end of the album. It's useless, and it should have been left on the cutting-room floor.

Ashes Against the Grain is an incredible album, and it pains me not to award it a full five-star rating. However, there are flaws here that prevent this from being a full-on masterpiece. The first and most obvious of these is the throwaway track 'The Grain.' The second flaw is more of a nitpick than an actual problem: some of the tracks here tend to overstate musical ideas. There are innumerable powerful riffs to be found throughout the course of these tracks, and I can't help but think that a few of them would have been more powerful if presented within a more moderate musical framework. This is not a major issue, however. Ashes Against the Grain is a superb piece of work from a creative and consistently intelligent group of musicians.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#513342) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, September 03, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In the four year since their excellent The Mantle, the music scene had more than caught up with Agalloch's post-metal vision; other bands, such as the brilliant Isis, had even crafted superior works to that foundational piece. But those hoping that Ashes Against the Grain would show the newcomers how it was done may have found themselves disappointed. With less emphasis on acoustic guitars than on The Mantle, the band's sound becomes a lot more generic, and the compositions seem fairly uninspiring next to works by the likes of Isis and Pelican. It's a reasonable enough listen if you like post-metal, but at the same time I think most fans would expect more of Agalloch.

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Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Agalloch were formed out of the ashes of doom/death project Aeolachrymae in 1995 and this is the third full length album to date. They hail from Portland Oregon but I have to say from hearing this, the first thought is that this band is from Northern Europe and not from the US at all. The reason for that is this is an emotional album that while bringing together thoughts of acts like Katatonia manages to also bring in black metal and Scandanavian style progressive rock together with atmosphere beyond measure. There are times when the music is quite light in nature, very melodic and almost joyous (notice the word 'almost') while at others it is bleak and nihilistic, with the pressure of the world on top of them all.

One reason that this works so very well is that there are a huge range being employed, there is a real sense of dynamics so for every sorrow there is another deeper to compare it against. The production isn't too heavy handed and the band are more than capable of turning it up and being very heavy indeed or bringing in folk influences and bringing out the acoustic guitars. Extremely emotional and cathartic, this is an album that can be draining in its very intensity and is always powerful.

This is definitely one for those who enjoy their music to be away from the norm, but also with plenty of passion and depth. www.grau.cd

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#906875) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Latest members reviews

5 stars AGALLOCH CREATE A UNIQUE AND DARK ALBUM WITH ASHES OF THE GRAIN.' Following the winning formula that AGALLOCH did with their previous release THE MANTLE, the amazing guitar interplay is once again at hand.' AGALLOCH create very unique and interesting music is the Progressive metal world, whi ... (read more)

Report this review (#991816) | Posted by progbethyname | Thursday, July 04, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Cards on the table: I'm not a post-metal fan. Largely because I'm a metal fan, and so post metal seems to me to be an attempt to create elevator music out of a genre specifically designed to hit your eardrums like a satanic crowbar to the face. In fact, I'm not really a huge fan of any sort of backg ... (read more)

Report this review (#293257) | Posted by stranded_starfish | Tuesday, August 03, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This just might be the best postmetal album ever. This third full-length studio album is perfect except for one little flaw, which is the last part of the album-ending epic Our Fortress Is Burning. This doesn´t really matter though, because it´s just the albums outro and every song before it i ... (read more)

Report this review (#276120) | Posted by I Love Internet | Saturday, April 03, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A great album from Agalloch. I think the main problem people have with this album is the lack of variety - the "folk" element has nearly been lost and it just seems to be post metal. Personally, I don't think it's a problem - it's easily dynamic enough to remain progressive. And it's great. 1. ... (read more)

Report this review (#245465) | Posted by Staker | Wednesday, October 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The follow up to the wonderful The Mantle, Agalloch basically shuns what I thought made The Mantle so good, and that is the acoustic guitar. Whereas The Mantle had a great balance between acoustic and electric and used the two to weave wonderfully layered melodies, AATG attempts to get those same ... (read more)

Report this review (#179584) | Posted by johnobvious | Thursday, August 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Weak effort in genre of progressive metal. I, personally, don't know if they "fit" in the genre of progressive metal. On second thought, what genre would they fit in? As this is the only purchase of the artist, I was very disappointed when I listened and listened and listened to the CD, hoping ... (read more)

Report this review (#122434) | Posted by proprogger | Wednesday, May 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5/5 Stars. Just because it has not enough prog elements to rate it as a prog record. I think Ashes Against the Grain is a great album. But, i really can't see the connection with prog though. I really liked the atmosphere of the album (voice of John Haughm is convincing and fits perfectly w ... (read more)

Report this review (#118815) | Posted by oracus | Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is how post-metal should be done. The beautifull textures and delacate instrumentality tell a remarcable story, even with minimal vocals. When vocals are used they fit the music perfectly, harsh yet still perfect, black yet not too screachy. Listening to this album you get rapped up in th ... (read more)

Report this review (#117594) | Posted by Proletariat | Saturday, April 07, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars First off, I have an open mind and listen to many genres of music, but I still cant see why Agalloch is appealing. I suppose its becuase I'm a compser, and I recognize that this is the kind of stuff I'd come up with if i was noodling around on my guitar while warmig up. I can't see why they ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#112771) | Posted by Quietus | Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars When I saw this album among the collaborators top albums of 2006, I decided to check it out. I was sorely disappointed. First of all, I must say: this guys are very good musicians, they play their instruments masterfully, and the instrumental music is good, but not great, not the best it seems t ... (read more)

Report this review (#108426) | Posted by Scapler | Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The attempt to put the grey in music was once more successfull. Agalloch really has the talent to take us to their landscapes. Deep acoustic/folk melodies and melancholy lost in the heavy riffs, epic clean vocals alternating with raging growls... and always this homogeneity. Agalloch is like Opet ... (read more)

Report this review (#87672) | Posted by Everlasting | Saturday, August 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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