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Review of the album "Ashes Against the Grain" by US Death Metal Band Agalloch

Updated on February 2, 2018

Who Was the Band Agalloch? Brief Introduction

Agalloch was a US death metal band with various influences. Even though I had mentioned previously that I would not review albums from US bands, there will be a different and better approach going forward. Agalloch was from Portland, Oregon and they were formed in 1995. Their 2006 album called Ashes Against the Grain is a good death metal album that is very creative. Note: it is now 2018 and even if I may have said that I wouldn’t review or analyze more albums by US based artists, that thought was temporary. So let us begin to analyze this very good album from Oregon’s Agalloch.

Photo of a Barren Tree Amidst the Snowy Landscape

This photo of the barren tree in the snow symbolizes the band's song Falling Snow. Heavy snowfall can impact our lives even if it is beautiful.
This photo of the barren tree in the snow symbolizes the band's song Falling Snow. Heavy snowfall can impact our lives even if it is beautiful. | Source

Falling Snow Is One of the Best Songs In Agalloch's Career

The first song that I had ever heard from these guys is the song Falling Snow. The main riff is very catchy and the song is about how sometimes intense and massive snowfall can lead to death. The first song called Limbs is a slow song that has that The Gathering kind of influence. The riff will remind you of that Dutch band if you listen to it long enough. As the song slows down I hear a Dark Tranquillity influence in the guitar playing as well.

We could say that the slow guitar taps also remind us of Morningrise era Opeth. Note: Morningrise was released in 1996. As for the song Falling Snow, it has a lead guitar style interlude though it is not an interlude in the literal sense but it gives that song a sort of distinct feel.

Why Is There a Review for This Album?

The decision to review this album was the same reason that those System of a Down albums were reviewed. The reason is that we writers still should give the United States some credit for having some good metal albums after the early 2000’s. However, Agalloch decided to be put to rest after guitarist and vocalist John Haughm parted from the rest of the band.

Falling Snow Song Review Part 2

John’s vocals do not exactly sound like the raspy Jeff Walker but they are still pretty low in pitch. If we do not avoid the heavy falling snow as it also hits the mountains, death will result. As the song comes to an end, a catchy progressive part is in the song. Then comes the very short instrumental song called This White Mountain on Which You Will Die. The atmospheric start to the song is very evident.

The Song Called Limbs

Ashes Against the Grain: the Songs Fire Above Ice Below and Not Unlike the Waves

Then the next song called Fire Above, Ice Below is influenced by Fates Warning and Ensiferum as the pounding drums can still be heard. The song is about there being a fire in the sky as there is ice below the Earth that is still solid. Sometimes even when humans try, they are not able to get rid of their emotional pain that is stuck with them. Even though Agalloch was a progressive death metal band, I can hear a definite In Flames influence as the 4th song slows down. The song ends as we hear the sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore. The sound of the waves can be heard going into the next song called Not Unlike the Waves.

The Three Part Song Our Fortress Is Burning

Then comes a song that is divided into three parts but they are each three separate tracks. The first part is called Our Fortress is Burning…1 (in Roman numeral form). The first part is an instrumental song that is slow and has the sound of thunder moving in the background. The song is similar in style to 1994 Amorphis. However, it cannot even compare to the beauty of that first Amorphis instrumental song on Tales From the Thousand Lakes. We will have to deduct a few points from the album’s score because of this first part. This first part is not bad but it is musically very average and stale. The second part is called Bloodbirds. This three part Our Fortress is Burning section is similar to Fates Warning’s The Ivory Gate of Dreams. However, in the case of Fates Warning, that whole section is combined into one song and it has a musical mastery and technicality that Agalloch can never match.

The Song Called Falling Snow

How Good Is This Album?

Agalloch were a good band and they tried to be creative but they cannot compare to death metal bands from Europe or Japan. The final score for the album Ashes Against the Grain is going to be 82 out of 100 points.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian

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