Ashes Against the Grain (The End)
by Hansel Merchor
Due to scarce touring, most of us will never get the chance to see Agalloch live, so recordings are as close as we’ll ever get to a gem like this. In the span of 10 years, this Portland band has created some of the most intriguing recordings in the American underground, and with the release of their latest, Ashes Against the Grain, this quartet consolidates itself as perfect providers of moody metal. Not so much intermingling extreme genres as stacking them together in precise order, Agalloch’s latest work is sprawling and expansive, yet it retains certain classic elements that are totally absent in today’s post-rock luminaries. From the get-go, the band dives face-first in doom, enhanced by cavernous vocals, which create a sort of controlled black metal symphony. Ashes Against the Grain then goes on for almost an hour, and somehow manages to navigate through folksy-acoustics, melancholic ambient rock, industrial toe-dipping, and the already mentioned post-rock territory without ever eliciting a yawn. One of the most flawless records by an American band in the year.