Rites of Separation

I’ve had a hard time coming up with a review for this album. It’s so good–and its sound is immediately familiar, yet hard to pin down in words. Agrimonia takes so much influence from all over the metal map, but rolls it into one seamless, devastating package, that it is not only difficult to pinpoint particular influences, but also seems as though it would be doing the music a disservice. It’s so well done that it seems wrong to pick it apart, especially doing so with reference to other bands.

Well, I’ll do it anyway, with that caveat. There is a clear crust influence (the band shares a member with Martyrdöd, also on Southern Lord, which pretty much holds the patent on this kind of sound), but it doesn’t dominate their music, nor does it limit the progression of the songs. If you took crust as a starting point and expanded the songwriting with the melody of Insomnium into the progressive songwriting territory of Opeth or Disillusion’s Back to Times of Splendor by way of the dark sludge of Withered’s Memento Mori, you might be close. Parts of this remind me of older metalcore; the piano intro and melodic riffs in “Hunted” is reminiscent of Darkest Hour’s So Sedated, So Secure. There also seems to be some Ludicra-like black influence in there somewhere. But all of these comparisons are mere approximations to their sound.

The thing that makes this album a true standout is the songwriting. All but one of the five tracks are longer than 10 minutes, but the album never loses momentum–quite a feat, and Agrimonia pulls it off with surprising songwriting agility. Despite the slurry of influences, all of the ideas string together seamlessly, creating some truly memorable moments. For instance, the awesome half-time tremolo riff at 3:40 in “While Life Lies” is perfectly placed. The album maintains its momentum right down to the last track’s final melodic riff that devolves into acoustic guitars, ending the album on a sublime note.

The not-too-polished, bottom-heavy production with just the right amount of reverb provides the necessary heft. The guitars are crunchy and deliver riff after tasty riff. The raspy female vocals are reminiscent of Light This City in delivery – raw, sexless, and intense. The bass is more felt than heard, especially at the fantastic doomy opening of “Where Life Lies.” The drums back everything up and tie it together into one unit.

I’m not sure what to call this album other than Metal with a capital M, and I’m not sure what else to say about it, other than to recommend it wholeheartedly to any fans of said genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
December 11th, 2013


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