Encrimson'd - _Agrarian Menace_
(Independent, 2004)
by: T. DePalma (8.5 out of 10)
With a mark of tight musicianship that exists without the slightest hint of avant-garde theatrics, this Minnesota three-piece put forward a passionate and raw mix of folk music and black metal that radiates a more humanistic approach to culture. Whereas the majority of folk themed metal releases focus almost completely on ancient mythology and occultism, _Agrarian Menace_ concentrates on the dramatic aspects of medieval Czech peasantry and through this unfolds an epic six-track debut of war, love, harvest, death and revolt. The music itself is on a similar path as bands like Arghoslent and Dissection, who combined elements of classical, NWOBHM and power metal to re-establish the ideas of a particular sound. Encrimson'd pack catchy riffs within a stripped down frame that join with the lyrics in minstrel-like narration, united by a range of brutish vocals. Technically intelligent, there are both odd time changes and predictable melodies (in the sense that they are easy to follow) that lend a memorable quality to the songs but also leave the listener with a desire to return for its temporarily ungrasping aspects. Each of these tracks hovers around seven minutes long and up without once dragging. The mixing on this record favors the guitar and vocals, but the bass is well taken care of and is noticeably able to fill in the gaps during their short breathes. The drums have a more degraded sound, but are less of a distraction in light of a competent performance. Though _Agrarian Menace_ holds firm through its entirety it does peak early with "The Piper's Tale", started by an acoustic guitar played in a measured dream-like stroll, and "Old Man"; both representing the height of complexity in Encrimson'd's idyllic sound. Bearing no reactionary tones of blasphemy or nationalism, this album is devoid of scene approval and cross-over appeal clich├ęs, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for this still unsigned band.

Contact: http://www.encrimsond.com

(article published 23/9/2004)

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