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Agni - 70%

TikrasTamsusNaktis, September 29th, 2012

This little EP begins with one of the most amazing riffs I have heard in a long time! The first main riff for "Of Bravery and Will" simply kills everything in its path. This riff let alone made listening to the rest of the EP enjoyable. The song continues on at a fast pace that you would definitely call black metal with fast tremolo riffing and blast beats and heavy cymbal usage. The awesome riff comes in once again during the song and after that part the song goes full out death metal with background chugging and some slightly technical riffs for all you technical freaks. Overall the song has a great balance of majestic, angry black metal and some heavy death metal influences.

The vocals on the album are more black metal orientated but have a leaning towards Viking metal traits with how the howls are released and the speed at which the lyrics are sung. The musicians in the band are certainly great at what they do and there is little fault that I can find in this release.

The one thing I find interesting about this albums concept is that the lyrics focus on Indian religion. This is interesting because I do not know of any black/death metal bands that focus on this kind of stuff. You could say it is a fresh concept but whether I am just narrow minded or something I just don’t feel that this is the most should I say "appropriate" religion to focus on in music such as this. I'm all for openness in music I guess just for me personally with the whole look that the band members portray and music that they play they should be focusing on Norse or at least European ancient religions. Regardless, I am not on to judge and it in no way makes the music any worse. I guess it is a fresh idea.

Overall the music on the album is 70% black metal and 30% death metal. The influences all intermingle together and so therefore this music might appeal to a more broad audience. The music is epic, aggressive with plenty of kick ass riffs. The production is just right. It is not overly under produced. There are no major faults in this release and I do recommend checking this out for some great head banging fun and hailing Agni?

Studies in divinity and fire - 65%

autothrall, September 28th, 2012

The first of two EPs recently released from Texans Runes of the Evening, Agni takes its name from the Hindu deity (much like its sister recording, Indra) and presents three cuts of searing, melodic black and death metal with a distinctly European flavor from about 10-15 years ago. As usual, I was expecting a little bit of ethnic influence relevant to the concept, so I was thrown off that this was rather straightforward aesthetically and not drowned in Indian folk instruments, but that's not to say that a concept need always reflect its cultural inspiration in the choice of music itself, and for playing a nearly gimmick-less variation on the formula, these gentlemen do not make a bad show of it. Lyrically, also, the band seem heavily inspired by all manner of interesting fiction, theory and Eastern philosophy.

Best way to describe this might be later Immortal (Sons of Northern Darkness) meets Dark Tranquillity, but in truth I heard a whole host of sounds including Enslaved and Dissection. Guitar progressions aren't scripted in the most evil or threatening patterns, but more a flurry of bright, dense chords threaded with choppier runs of almost thrash-like muted sequences for variation. Runes of the Evening includes a lot of warmer, glorious notes, but that's not to say this is at all uplifting or happy, because often the chords crash along with a cold, cutting grandeur that makes you feel like you're staring out across a glacier. Not what I expected upon seeing the cover, of course, but that's just how I felt. The drums are loaded, plenty of double bass and blasting when the action picks up, a few percussive breakdown style beats that keep the tempo from repeating itself ad nauseum, and you can also make out the splashing clamor of the cymbals. Bass lines are kept simple, but the instrument is admittedly pretty loud when you've got this on full crank, and it really stands out against the higher pitch of the guitars.

Vocals are a grimy, petulant rasp that doesn't always distinguish itself much from the music beneath it, but again it's pretty fitting for the style, and they often bulk up the inflection with some deeper, broader growls to keep it from becoming monotonous; and there's plenty of echo to give it resonance over the busier riffs below. They don't skimp on the guitar riffing, and there is variation enough that none of the blasted rhythms or melodies wear out their welcome. As for production, it doesn't sound too heavily polished, the guitars have a nice texture to them and the levels of all instruments could be tweaked on a higher budget, but Agni is still vivacious, loud and clear all around. If the EP suffers from anything, it's that there's just not a whole lot of creativity happening beyond the very idea of this, and even though Runes are decent in most departments, and you won't hear many American bands playing in this niche, this doesn't present much that the seasoned follower of Swedish and Norse black and death metal hasn't already got in spades. Still, if you enjoy stuff like the harder Agalloch, Woods of Ypres or Wolves in the Throne Room tracks, or the Scandinavians I mentioned earlier, it's not a bad listen.