Sunday 21 April 2013

Agrimonia - Rites of Separation (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 6/5/2013
Label : Southern Lord
Rites of Separaton, album tracklisting:
1) Talion 10:56
2) Hunted 15:40
3) While Life Lies 10:44
4) The Battle Fought 6:44
5) Awaiting 15:41
The name of Gothenburg-based quintet AGRIMONIA will reverberate through the masses throughout the coming months as their third LP, and first for Southern Lord, is subject to be released onto the masses in May.

AGRIMONIA has lead a fruitful existence since their 2005 foundation, a steady diet of live appearances and European tours being an immediate part of the band’s ethos from day one, the ranks of the band featuring members of other notable Swedish infiltrators including Martyrdöd, Skitsystem, At the Gates and others. Their initial recording -- a massive nearly hour-long undertaking -- spread through the post-rock and crust legions, eventually seeing official release on European label Skuld Releases. Following their follow-up LP -- the 2010-released Host Of The Winged, released again via Skuld alongside a CD release on US crust/punk mainstays Profane Existence -- the band traversed on American and Mexican soil for the first time with a brief but rampant West Coast North American tour.

Having signed with Southern Lord mid-2012, AGRIMONIA bunkered into the studio over the turn of the year to record their label debut Rites Of Separation, the final product then mixed by mastermind Fredrik Nordstrom at infamous Studio Fredman (At The Gates, Opeth, Arch Enemy). With just seconds short of a full hour of material harnessed, the completed recordings boast the most mammoth and varied sounds in the band’s already diversified and expansive sound, their bustling slow-motion post-rock builds displayed with the most epic refinement. The band’s unconcealed crustpunk ethos and scathing elements shine through the pristine devastation, with elements of Summoning, Damad, Pelican, Opeth, Crisis, Bolt Thrower, Nausea and countless more shining within AGRIMONIA’s crushing, poignant and unique new LP
Line up:
PONTUS - Guitar, keys & backing vox
CHRISTINA: Vox & keys
MAGNUS: Guitar
BJÖRN - Drums
Agrimonia introduce themselves on their third record with a near eleven minute slice of almost all that makes metal good. Inventive riffs, time changes, harsh vocals, excellent Nordstrom production and an almost Maiden-esque gallop in places. Hard to categorise, there is something for even the most discerning sub-genre fan here. There is prog, melancholia, riffy passages, loose grooves, tight playing... it's all here in “Talion”.
As the over fifteen minute “Hunted” floats in on piano with an airy feel, you will be wondering where the album is going to go. There is no predicting it; just go with it. Unusual rhythms combine with a bleak Scandinavian (naturally) feel to create a rather encompassing listen.
While Life Lies” has a despairing and dreamy opening, but shifts to a kind of doom/sludge or even slowed down BM feel before picking up the pace and switching back and forth between the two time feels. The track is serpentine in it effortless shifts from electric to acoustic, slow to mid paced,  despair to hope. Clever stuff, and not just mere tricks either, the track and album as a whole has an organic feel- note that just because the songs are long they are not necessarily meandering or wasteful... perhaps sprawling would be a more accurate word to use here in a positive sense.
The Battle Fought” has a definite BM feel to the opening riff (Dissection, not Burzum) but again twists away to time shifts and an interesting verse structure. At less than seven minutes it represents the albums shortest track, but this does not make it more or less focused than the rest of the record.
Awaiting” closes the album with another quarter of an hour of music! In some style. An effective and experimental intro leads the listener into some grand atmospheric riffing, using the BM trick of fast picking to play a slow moving melody during the verse. The breakdown sections are effective with good guitar interplay and they bridge the track well to allow it to continue ploughing its individualistic furrow. As a solitary and reverb drenched guitar gives way to an acoustic that is left to play the album to close, it gives time for you to reflect on the record and enjoy what you have heard. Again, the album is structured and has a definite plan to it, I feel.
As their first for Southern Lord, the album should do well and take the band to new listeners. It certainly deserves too, so give it a try.
Words by: Richard Maw
As always show your support to the band. You can buy the record here and download at the usual places. Thanks to Lauren @ Rarelyunable for the hook up as ever.