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Flour makes face suitably white, peasant - 51%

Lane, October 25th, 2012

A black metal band sounding very Northern European, but surprisingly coming from Minneapolis, USA. The term "black metal" is watered nowadays, so here's a couple of lyrical facts: lyrics are based in medieval times and one theme is a rebellion against governing forces. "Take up thy scythe, our rage is deep, aristocratic bread we reap." Satan isn't mentioned here.

At least musically, this is blackish by its soul. Blast beat is in a good use with fast tremolo picking guitar texturing. First five songs also feature "pagan" riffs and folkish acoustic passages and intros. Good to have something more melodic stuff here, because most of the material is hard to get a grip of without deep concentration. 'Old Man' is a fine example of this. Songs evolve within those borders and aren't easy listening. Somehow this style bring Primordial to my mind, but Encrimson'd being far less catchy. All of the songs last almost 7 minutes at minimum so there's a lot of time to move within a song. Music-wise, 'As Echoes down Fall' is purely a black metal song, while 'Amber Shades' is more melodic pagan metal song with some death metal influences, too, and a nice inn atmosphere at some point (acoustic guitar, hand claps, mugs clinking and boozy singing). Other songs are somewhere between the two. As mentioned, the music isn't easy to follow and only way I could take something out of it was to listen to it with headphones and reading the lyrics. Without concentrating, I felt lost and the music sounded meaningless.

I needed the lyrics sheet to understand some of the lyrics actually. There's many vocal styles used, but almost all of them are horrible! It's good to be extreme to some point, but too much is simply too much. Shrieks are the crappiest and most annoying of them all, growl is powerless, but thankfully there's some shouting and bellow, which save something. Many styles are used simultaneously. I like the lyrics. Stories about revolting, battles and nature are good. Some Czech lines are also included.

'Agrarian Menace' is pestered with a bad mix. The vocals are way too high on the mix, and remembering that most of them are bad, it just makes it all worse. Guitar and bass are audible, but still not well enough. However, their sound is okay. One of the biggest flaw is drums; during the blast beats, snare vanishes almost totally. It leaves the whole without a firm bottom. Generally, the drums sound extremely organic and when there's slower beats the playing is nice listening with all the different rolls and beats. The slower the music is, better it sounds, so it's a bad thing there's a lot of blast beat. It's raw and energetic, but could be so much more ballsy.

'Agrarian Menace' is the band's debut album and was released by themselves. Therefore some of the flaws can be understood and also kind of forgiven. Covers look nice enough, having a suitable feel. There's a long way up, but having their own character, the band have already traveled a long way.

(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2004)

Black metal with a pastoral tip - 70%

drengskap, April 30th, 2007

This release caught me on the hop – the title and cover artwork, a reworking of a Millet painting of a peasant wielding a mattock, led me to expect some mellow neofolk. Instead, what you get is ‘melodic black metal influenced by rural medieval themes’ (to quote the press release, which I should have read before slapping the disc in the player!). After readjusting my ears to the black metal frequency, I listened with interest. The Encrimson’d sound has been tagged as ‘Rural Metal’, but sleepy and bucolic this ain’t – they’ve been busy beating their ploughshares into swords.


Encrimson’d is a Minnesota three-piece formed in 1999, featuring Chris Danacek on bass and vocals, Shaun Koelsch on guitar and Jared mason on drums, and Agrarian Menace is their full-length debut. Respect is due to Encrimson’d, who are still unsigned, for creating such a professional-looking and -sounding CD release. Seven tracks extend to 47 minutes.


Folksy influences on black metal aren’t unheard-of. Ukrainian bands like Nokturnal Mortum and Hate Forest have been blending folk music into the blastbeats for ages, creating what is in fact a more radical sound than that of Encrimson’d, who employ folk themes without actually making extensive use of folk instruments. And of course Scandinavian acts like Ulver, Taake and Burzum have frequently made references to Nordic folklore, with Ulver and Taake actually recording songs in Old Norse rather than modern Norwegian. Encrimson’d adhere to a pretty traditional black metal template, with fast and furious (non-triggered) drumming, surging guitar, the occasional acoustic interlude, and vocals alternating between guttural and shrieking. The lyrics are notably free of the kind of Satanic, Odinist and nationalist sentiments normally associated with this kind of music, focussing instead on themes of medieval conflict and revolt, a bit like The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath A Cloud (to make a very non-black metal comparison). The production is raw and organic. There are spoken passages of Czech poetry, reflecting vocalist Chris Danacek’s ethnic background.


Encrimson’d aesthetics and lyrics are more original than the music, but this is still above-average black metal, which manages to be distinctive in a genre which is increasingly overstuffed with undistinguished and indistinuishable bands. The Encrimson’d website has two tracks from Agrarian Menace to download if you want to find out what they sound like, including ‘The Piper’s Tale’, which is the standout track on the album in my opinion.