Feb 072018


(After an absence of more than two years, our old comrade deckard cain has returned to NCS with a guest review of the fourth album by the Swedish band Agrimonia, which was released by Southern Lord on January 26th.)


In an Old English medical manuscript, ‘Agrimonia’ was cited as an herb, a panacea for all supposed ailments.

‘If it be leyd under mann’s heed,
He shal sleepyn as he were deed;
He shal never drede ne wakyn
Till fro under his heed it be takyn.’

Daniel Ekeroth’s Swedish Death Metal paints quite a vivid picture of the country’s trajectory into death metal haven, the first chapter of which is dedicated entirely to hardcore punk and its variants. The gradual shift from heavy metal to speed/power to thrash metal might as well have been wholly discarded in favour for a much more two-way exchange between hardcore and death metal.

There are exceptions to this, of course, but for the sake of brevity one cannot dissociate one from the other. Most of the now seminal Swedish death metal bands had a background in hardcore punk and crust, and one cannot miss the clear crossover spirit that so pervades the earlier releases of said bands. So, the Swedish lineage may be considered a tad different from other strains. Continue reading »

Apr 302013

(NCS contributor Austin Weber reviews the new album by Agrimonia., which is being released today by Southern Lord.)

It can be very exciting to stumble onto a band who are new to you part-way through their career. When that happens you have no preconceived notions, no expectations, and are not comparing what you’re hearing to what you’ve heard before. Which is not to say expectations are bad, but they can lead to a bias that may affect how you perceive new music by groups you enjoy. Such was the case for me with the Swedish bastards of Agrimonia, who had two full-lengths under their belt by the time I first heard “Talion” courtesy of a Pitchfork premier. They are clearly in the class of bands who are identified as, and make music labelled, “post-metal”, but they deliver their take on it in a way uncomparable to all but maybe Downfall of Gaia (who compose their music from a similar palette of influences).

Rites of Separation is a gnarled mass of thick sludge riffs that torture at a glacial pace, hoarse ear-splitting vocals, atmospheric black holes, and subdued keyboards. As a group, Agrimonia have shied away from the biggest trope found in post-metal: A near exclusively slow-tempo framework that lends itself to meandering because there is nothing contrasting against the sloth-like pace. Their music is as uncomfortable as it is riveting, most of which stems from their unparalleled sense of dynamics. Agrimonia arrange their music in peaks and valleys, a la post-rock, which allows for fast, hard-hitting parts as a wise contrast to the softer, slower melancholy, a dichotomy of grace that allows them to cover a wider range of sonic expressions than most. Continue reading »