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Makers of Sorrow - 80%

GrizzlyButts, February 27th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Formed from a collision of Martyrdöd, Bombs of Hades, Miasmal and At the Gates members, Agrimonia defied expectations on their 2010 debut ‘Host of the Winged’. Using the core of Martyrdöd’s Skitsystem-influenced Swedish crust punk sound the band stretched and groaned above epic 10+ minute post-metal and atmospheric sludge metal songwriting to great effect. Though their sound was satisfyingly epic Agrimonia’s propensity for long-winded post-metal compositions largely amounted to directionless spectacle. The density of compelling extreme metal textures on that first album was brilliant and enthralling, yet it suffered from overabundant atmospherics and little depth outside of lyrics. ‘Rites of Separation’ was an aggressive leap forward three years later with more melodic benders from guitarist Pontus (Martyrdöd) and an increasingly aggressive presence from vocalist Christina.

What ‘Rites of Separation’ did on epic 15+ minute tracks like “Hunted” blended Cult of Luna-esque affectations deeper into the core of their extreme version of post-metal and the result was unfortunately their least memorable recording. The real power of Agrimonia’s original incarnation was an adept balance of their competing textural influences mashed into one broken glass spitting beast of Swedish extreme metal and that’d been lost on the follow-up. The band’s third album ‘Awaken’ takes a more palatable step towards post-metal and seemingly erases the fumbling heaviness of ‘Rites of Separation’ and replaces it with a severely evolved melodic death metal influenced crusty post-sludge beast.

Compositions on ‘Awaken’ are increasingly lead guitar driven and highly melodic at peak intensity as they create fjords and mountains of interest within slightly more concise song lengths. Though they’ve recorded at the same location as the previous album, this record’s mixing from Henrik Udd‘s recording studio is far less obtuse compared to the sterilized Studio Fredman mix previous. The mix allows for the fresh-assed dynamics of Agrimonia’s increasing post-metal influences to shine through as their style incorporates a far, far more melodic version of their unique progressive sludge/crust/death noise. This is in many ways the atmosludge influenced vision of where I thought albums like ‘Elddop’ were taking Martyrdöd, but Agrimonia is a far more appropriate project for the long-winded, melodically weaving guitar driven songwriting of ‘Awaken’.

‘Awaken’ took extra time to absorb across an above-average number of listens. With tracks that average nearly 10 minutes Agrimonia’s latest can be just as daunting as an evening of funeral doom metal listening. That balance of spaced out post-metal, driving melodic death metal, and gargled Swedish crust makes for a dense yet gratifying progressive extreme metal listen that never feels pretentious or over-baked. You might need to approach ‘Awaken’ with patience upon repeated listens as it’s subtlety building up to the energetic spikes of tracks like “Foreshadowed” and “Withering” becomes hard not to zip through if you’re looking for instant gratification by way of the riff. With that necessary patience guiding the listener Agrimonia offer a rare non-pompous gateway to more challenging progressive death metal music that is equal parts accessible, melodic and aggressive. It was a shame that it released alongside other huge albums at the end of January because this deserves as much or more praise than any other great works released so far this year.