Monday, 20 April 2015

Agrimonia - Rites Of Separation Review

With the first edition of brand new, Leeds based metal festival No Fun Intended just five days away, I thought I'd upload this review that I wrote for Ghost Cult Magazine back in 2013. Sweden's Agrimonia are playing on Saturday evening, right before US sludge band Noothgrush. I'll unfortunately miss some of Saturday's bands due to family commitments, but that doesn't stop everyone else from getting in the mood for some smash! This review has been posted with the kind permission of Ghost Cult Magazine.


Tracklist:

1. Talion
2. Hunted
3. While Life Lies
4. The Battle Fought
5. Awaiting

Sweden’s crust-sludgers Agrimonia are about to spew forth their third full-length, and debut for Southern Lord, Rites of Separation. The album promises to be an aural experience like no other, weighing in at just under an hour and featuring five songs. It’s been three years since their last record Host of The Winged, in which time the band have honed both their stagecraft and song writing even further. Rites of Separation starts with Talion, which after an initial whirring build up, goes on to fill your ears with thick but bright guitar. The riffs are angular yet melodic and seem to belay Agrimonia’s sludge/crust sound. Christina’s vocals are intense and add a passion to the music. The leads feature an almost middle-eastern epic-ness, with the melody they possess in the first solo. Overall, it’s a song driven by constant but controlled guitars. It’s more atmospheric that it is filthy too, especially during the more thoughtful and introspective passage towards the end of the track. Here, gently plucked guitar is interspersed with otherworldly sounds and swathes of noise, before those unmistakable riffs come back into view. They throw in different textures by introducing Hunted with a nice piano opener. I’m still not getting a sense of the crust/sludge they’re known for! Hunted features another prolonged instrumental opening passage. It takes nearly three minutes fro those crazed screams to come back into view. During the main verses, the song seems more fraught and faster than opener Talion. The drums are more prominent and the screams are pretty savage. I’d compare Christina’s vocals to those of Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy, purely due to their intensity, though I know that may not be a popular comparison! One thing I do love about Rites of Separation is the way that Agrimonia weave such uncharacteristic melodies into their music, so as to avoid being truly pigeonholed. It really brings the album to life. Hunted ends very suddenly and flows straight into While Life Lies. This isn’t an album that instantly hits you between the eyes, it’s subtle, it has heart and soul and musically, it’s superior to a lot of music I’ve listened too recently. Just take the crescendo at the start of “While Life Lies” as an example. It builds up with slow, menacing drumbeats and well placed guitar melodies, before the noise level ratchets up, peaks and the screams kick in. It’s more off-kilter but loses none of its majestic appeal. I guess you shouldn’t expect anything less from a band of this quality. Bassist Martin Larsson currently plays in At The Gates and Skitsystem, while Drummer Bjorn and Guitarist/Keyboardist Pontus also feature in death metal band Miasmal and second guitarist Magus plays in crossover band Atomvinter, to name a few. On The Battle Fought there’s more of a black metal nastiness seeping through the guitars, it may have been laying in wait with previous songs, but this is the first time you get a proper sense of it. Being the shortest song on Rites of Separation, there’s an inevitable speed to it, but again it’s controlled. Before you know it, you’re listening to the opening bars of album closer Awaiting. For an album with songs of this length, it certainly ain’t a chore to sit through. There’s enough creativity within the music to keep it interesting throughout. The ambient noise elements at the start of Awaiting are somewhat unsettling, but fit well with the rest of the music. The instrumentation then hits another epic stride and that claustrophobic black metal influence rests within the vocals. The music takes a slightly haunting twist with some cleanly plucked guitar, which lumbers on through the mid-way point of the song, as the textures build and the band switches meticulously between full-on assaults and more considered passages. The whispered vocals are especially spine tingling! I can’t fault this record one bit. It’s just got such a personality about it. Each member of Agrimonia plays a significant role in making Rites of Separation what it is and this could easily be contender for album of the year!

You can stream Rites Of Separation via Southern Lord here:-



Agrimonia Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/agrimonia.swe
Southern Lord Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin
No Fun Intended Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/NoFunIntendedUK

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