Monday, August 1, 2011

Agatus - The Weaving Fates (2002)

The Weaving Fates is another highly lauded record from Greeks Agatus, but once again I must take exception to the enormous amounts of praise I have seen targeted in its direction. Oh, this is a decent accounting of the band's talents, and superior to the debut, yet not even remotely extraordinary. Where it exceeds the Dawn of Martyrdom is in the production, and by a lesser margin, the writing. The sophomore takes a more organic approach to the guitar tone, but the whole mix is refreshingly clean, where its predecessor was far more of an epic, harried charge of melodic black metal which drew upon the obvious Swedish parallels. The Weaving Fates is still quite melodic, mind you, but the guitars are so brazen and straight in your face that it does a more effective job of hammering the point.

There's also a potent, barbaric measure to a number of the tracks that almost betrays the cheesy eloquence of its cover art. Straight heavy metal chord patterns are 'woven' through the faster, bleeding breaks of melody and the result often makes you want to slam a mug of your chosen ambrosia down on the temple floor. "The Weaving Fates", "Night of a Thousand Stars", and "Προγονολατρία (Ancestor Worship)" all exemplify such a principle, the latter my personal favorite of the band's career for its glistening, blissful bridge. Though the primary focus is on the guitars, the drums are also solid, and Agatus have not abandoned the synthesizers so favored by their Greek peers. Occasionally, these still feel somewhat cheesy, but I'd attribute this to the bright pads chosen to stand out from the guitar lines more than anything else. The harsher black metal vocals are just as bland as they have been for the previous releases, but Eskarth and Vorskaath will often use a more conversational, grimy tone that is far more appreciable if understated.

One aspect of the sophomore that I didn't really care for are the interludes and outros, which are pretty predictable, 'ancient' acoustic pieces with a minimum of percussion that never seem to go anywhere. The hidden 'outro' is a complete waste of time, one of those little clips of screwing around in the studio, packed into several minutes of silence. Who cares? At least tell a real joke or do something funny. The cover art is ugly and looks like a bad Romance novel from a time forlorn, or 1987. The lyrics are a mesh of the occult and mythological typically attributed to the Greek scene, but some of them are mediocre at best ("Era of Tiamat", "Προγονολατρία", or the title track). In the end, while a punchier and more poignant effort than the middling Dawn of Martyrdom, I simply have never derived as much enjoyment from this release as I have from Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Varathron, or a number of other Hellenic mainstays, including the brothers' other band Zemial, who are far more crude and evil than this. That said, The Weaving Fates would be unquestionably the place to start in the Agatus catalog.

Verdict: Win [7/10]
(before I stopped to behold)

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