Thursday, February 12, 2015
Black Metal History Month: Harrow :"Fallow Fields"
There is no shame in my game. I play D&D every Sunday night making folk metal is not a bad word to me even with the Middle Earth theatrics . The problem with the genre is I have to really dig to finds bands that quench my thirst for darkness as the bulk of the bands tend to be way too happy for me. I don't drink so growled drinking songs with a polka back beat is not going to get it no matter what kind of chain mail they are sporting. Harrow gets that and are on my wave length. The album starts off in the same part of the woods Agalloch likes to frolic and then shit gets real. They carry an intensity and attack similar to that of Woman is the Earth. There is something a little darker and more hypnotic in the sounds they have gathered here. Opening you album with a fourteen minute song is a bold move unless you can deliver the ebb and flow of dynamics these guys have packed into it.
The clean vocals and somewhat seventies prog vibe leads you into 'Through the Gray" is done so with a very narcotic gracefulness in it's throb. These guys cover a lot of ground in the album's first two songs and they are not cascading black metal like Wolves in the Throne Room were once crowned I can see fans of that band digging these guys at well. They use restraint on the blast beats, never allowing it to be the only weapon in their sonic arsenal.They manage to always keep pulling out the unexpected, even catching me off guard an impressive feat if you consider the fact I which listen to a flood of new music ever day that pours from the unending deluge that's my a seem caught in-box that is a pretty impressive feat, to catch me off guard. The harsher vocals get into a pretty nasty scream at times.
There might be more clean vocals than expected, but that shouldn't deter you from this album. The neo folk that drips out of title track has a wonderful dissonance to it's melancholy that almost gives it a doom feel. The layers on this one come in the way of oboes and strings as things pick up into a more furious strum, never becoming actual metal. The use of strings is one of their staples as violinist Alexia Horozian is a member of this Canadian band. They close out the album with the 11 minute "Awake Before the Dawn" that takes it's time in awakening the metallic beast under the surface of the almost post-rock acoustic drift that glazes the first nine minutes of the song. The vocals have a fragile Neil Young like reediness to them and build in desperate yearning up until the climax that has more in common with Godspeedyoublackemperor than it does black metal.
This album is maybe forty percent metal and the rest is a lavish mix of spacious post-rock and neo-folk which work well together. I'll give this album a 9, I kept waiting for more metal to crash this party, but after the second song it wasn't happening. If any one is going to be going with non-metal elements in metal it will be me so I am not going to fault them for that there were some droning sections that might have been better spent adding intensity.