"Ashes Against The Grain" is one of the very best Agalloch albums.
Agalloch come back with an unbelievable, and extremely original album, "Ashes Against The Grain", the band's second best album, only to be second to "The Mantle".
Very different from the previous studio album, with "Ashes Against The Grain" Agalloch return to their Doom Metal style, leaving behind all the bleak, wintery folkish atmospheres and bringing up the spring, dreadful, but still dreamy atmospheres. The structure of the album is quite impressive and epic: almost all eight songs are long, and the three final songs are technically part of an even more epic song, "Our fortress Is Burning", which is acclaimed as one of the best Agalloch moments ever, even by me.
"Limbs" is a dark,long, and violent song, but with an epic and hopeful atmosphere that dresses it. Quite original in some moments, thanks especially to the beautiful guitars of John Haugm and Don Anderson, which always give a magic touch to the mood.
"Falling Snow" is a little more cheerful, even though the Black Metal vocals are a lot more present than the clean ones. Great chorus, great experimentation, this is another good one.
"This Mountain On Which You Will Die" is a shot instrumental, an interlude, that connects the first part of the album with the middle part.
"Fire Above, Ice Below" is possibly the song I least prefer; it just doesn't seem to be at the height of the two previous songs, even though the length of it would imply otherwise. Some moments are nice, but others just don't touch as much.
"Not Unlike The Waves" is probably my favorite song of the album. Everything of it is somewhat perfect; the chorus, the guitars, the verse, the experimentation, the vocals,the arrangements. Brilliant. No wonder they also made a music video for this one.
"Our Fortress Is Burning" is another masterpiece; in total, considering these three last songs as one, the length goes around twenty minutes; the first five are instrumental, very mellow, with interesting arrangements and arpeggios of the guitar. Bloodbirds(the second part) is maybe my least favorite, don;t know exactly why, since it maintains pretty much the same melody as before. The Grain is the third part of the song, like the first part instrumental, like the first part great.
There is also a bonus track, "Our Fortress Has Burned To the Ground", a sort of epilogue to the album. It's a nineteen minute ambient piece, with an interesting post apocalyptic atmosphere.
As a conclusion, this album really moved me, even though it has one defect; it is a little too long, and you get kind of tired of it. But still, I could easily define it as a masterpiece, a near perfect album.