Agrimonia Offer the Strongest Chapter in Their Post-Metal Vision with 'Awaken'
Returning five years after their strong Southern Lord debut, Rites of Separation, Agrimonia introduce the strongest chapter in their heavy post-metal vision.
26 Jan 2018
Formed in 2005, Agrimonia gained initial attention due to featuring a couple of high profile musicians of the Swedish extreme music scene, in Martin Larsson of the legendary At the Gates and Pontus Redig of crust titans Martyrdod. But one record after the next the band has proved to be a distinct entity and not a mere side project. Having released a self-titled demo in 2008 and the debut record Host of the Winged in 2010, the band explored the intricacies of the sludge induced post-metal narrative, while incorporating crust aesthetics. However, the more impressive moment came with Rites of Separation, Agrimonia's first album through Southern Lord, which appeared to be the turning point regarding the quality of the songwriting, which in turn unveiled more about Agrimonia's vision.
Five years after Rites of Separation, Agrimonia returns with Awaken, a record that sees them building on the foundation that their Southern Lord debut explored and taking things up a notch. Awaken is a record that is melodic to its very core, and that's an element that Agrimonia has inherited from a great tradition of Swedish extreme bands that fearlessly incorporated melodic lead work into their works. The main part of "A World Unseen" oozes with that melodic presence, while a more rocking characteristic is examined in the energetic parts of "Astray" and modernization of old-school tactics is revealed in "Foreshadowed".
On the other end, the crust influence while it provides the aesthetics in aspects of progression and the overall aggressive outlook of the band, highlighted brilliantly through Christina Blom's vocal delivery, does not see Agrimonia go into full-blown punk outbreaks. It is a fine balancing act that is performed, almost like a time bomb that never actually goes off, which in turn creates a looming menace over the music.
What brings these two worlds together is the progressive sensibility that Agrimonia have discovered. The progression of "Foreshadowed" suggests that switch in mentality, taking on a dark prog outlook as it slowly morphs the atmosphere around it. When this attribute is combined with the post-metal factor, it turns the lead work and feeling of the performance down to a more expressive and at the same time melancholic path, as is explored in the start of "Withering" and the ending of "The Sparrow". Certain black metal-esque leanings also add to this rounded point of view, injecting the necessary dissonance that enhances the brutality and conviction in which the brutal moments of "Withering" arrive.
As Agrimonia builds an equilibrium out of this collage of sounds, when it comes to exploring experimental aspects of their identity, the band also does not go extravagant and treads rather carefully over the balance. But, the sparse notions of this viewpoint do make an appearance and are able of altering the atmosphere and flavor of the various parts. The keyboards play a significant part in this, capable of either acting as a background element or taking on a more centric role. The opening track, for instance, is a brilliant example of where the keys are adding that much more depth to the track, with the blinking, electrifying characteristic mutating the post-metal structures.
The most significant leap, however, is the same the band performed with the release of Rites of Separation, and that is the quality of the songwriting. Rites of Separation was a very strong album, featuring some very interesting structures, but Awaken is where the band truly blossoms. Without switching its style much, the band has improved on the narrative that accompanies this excellent mixture of styles. It is apparent from the placement of the leads, the dissonant counterparts that contrast the melodic leanings, to the ambient settings that introduce or conclude the individual tracks and the clean passages that act as interludes. Agrimonia has truly evolved and awakened in full with this album.