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Harrow - Fallow Fields Award winner

Harrow
Fallow Fields
by Danny Sanderson at 30 September 2015, 11:02 AM

 Canada has a reputation for producing some really great bands and music, many of whom ultimately garner cult followings and widespread critical acclaim. There's a reason why DARKTHRONE wrote a song about this country's music; Canada's musical output is, for the most part, unique, extraordinary and follows its own distinct path and style, as opposed to following the lead of the scene at large. Victoria based Black Metallers HARROW are no different, creating really interesting music which incorporates plenty of atmospherics and acoustic guitars. Their latest album, "Fallow Fields" is a great example of Atmospheric, Folky Black Metal done to near perfection.

The first of the albums four tracks, "Pathways", begins with a great acoustic guitar part, coupled with some great Ambient parts that sound incredibly folky. The song slowly builds up, with the drums and the darker guitar parts gradually coming into the mix, before the song bursts to life in a blaze of raw, Black Metal fury. The vocals sound amazing, a cold, acidic shriek which sits atop the rest of the music on this track. Later on in the song, we get a few chanted sections which work very well. Those Folk elements that were prevalent in the opening moments of the song never really leave, and provide plenty of the hooks on this track. Throughout the song, the guitars and drums sway between blistering speeds and a much slower, impressive dirge. Towards the middle of the track, we get treated to some more acoustic parts, which help to keep the song varied and interesting. Overall, the production has just the right amount of rawness to it, but not to the point that it makes the song un-listenable. All the various elements in the music stand out, and they don't blend together to create a cacophonous racket, as some rawer Black Metal songs have a tendency to. The song winds down towards the end, and the music ends on a softer note. It's a very good introductory track to the record. "Through the Grey" likewise opens with an acoustic piece that really draws the listener in, as do the initial vocal parts, which much cleaner than you'd expect from your average Black Metal track. After the opening motif that makes up the first half of the song is over, we get to sample a much more ferocious kind of Black Metal. It really does sound vicious at times. There's also a noticeable atmosphere that cloaks the latter minutes of the song, which really elevates this particular song from a good song to a great one.

The albums second half kicks off with the amazing, Folk-laden titular track. The clean vocals work really well with the music. For the most part, this is a very mellow, acoustic affair with tonnes of cool atmospherics that really help to make it the standout song on the record. The final song on the record, "Awake Before the Dawn", is similar in a lot of ways to the preceding track; it focuses exclusively on bring the atmospheric and Folk elements of the bands sound to the fore, and it is so much better for this approach. Towards the end of the song, you get a sense from the way the music changes that it's building to something, but the heavy Black Metal sounds you're expecting don't come. We get to hear a few cool new riffs, but other than that, there is no significant shift in pace or style in this tracks closing moments. It's another very laid back, relaxing song that really helps to bring this album to a close very well.

This is a very good debut album. If I really wanted to nit-pick about any way that this could be improved, I'd probably say that the production on the heavier, more straight forward Black Metal parts needs ironing out in places, but other than that, this album is practically flawless. I can't recommend this record enough.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Pathways
2. Through the Grey
3. Fallow Fields
4. Awake Before the Dawn
Lineup:
Ian Campbell - Vocals, Guitar
Jacob Moyer - Drums
Kat Mason - Bass
Record Label: Avantgarde Music
     


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Edited 20 September 2021
 

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