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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)