Album Review: Agriculture – “Agriculture” (Post-black Metal/Blackgaze)

Written by Rae-Aila

Agriculture – Agriculture
> Post-black metal/blackgaze 
> California, US
> Releases July 21
> The Flenser

Every media icon has their catchphrase — from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s “Austin 3:16” to DJ Khaled’s infamous “Another one”. Of course, the catchphrase doesn’t make the icon (usually), but there’s something about a good catchphrase that escalates something to the next level…. like a cherry on top of a cake, if you will. If you’ve been anywhere near a metal community on Twitter, I’m sure you haven’t managed to escape a long thread of accounts spamming “I love the spiritual sound of ecstatic black metal by the band Agriculture.” While it is both a great marketing tactic and plenty of fun to participate in, it’s truly the best way to describe Agriculture-verse. Black metal has historically been a genre doused in grief, anguish, and pity, and while Agriculture isn’t the first band to shoot for a happier angle, they are one of the first to make it look this easy.  

The self-described ecstatic black metal quartet finally brings us their long-awaited debut full-length with this self-titled project. The band’s first release, The Circle Chant, came last year and left us begging for more. Hailing from Los Angeles, Agriculture has been one of the more exciting new acts, influencing an already burgeoning scene of American post-black. Agriculture draws from a number of influences — the polarizing and optimistic sounds of Deafheaven’s cult classic Sunbather and the heavily-philosophical Liturgy project run by Haela Hunt-Hendrix are the two comparisons that come to the top of my head. Agriculture looks to pinpoint their own trademark sound with their debut album, and it’d be controversial to say they did anything other than that.  

Starting with “The Glory of the Ocean”, the longest track of the album, is a power move that pays off in the end. The introduction includes perhaps one of the calmest performances of the project, allowing a slide guitar to build an ambiance that places itself in a dusty, suburban location of western America. The comforting plucks eventually burst into a restless collection of tempo changes and unconformity. Agriculture immediately introduces itself as a personal piece, a testimony to the mundanity of life and the changes that come with it. “Look, Pt. 1 – 3”, the multi-track story-within-a-story, reaffirms this assessment by prioritizing technicality over anything. Their ability to play within such a tight framework with chords that are meant to evoke joyful emotions while managing to switch it up in different areas — dynamics, speed, vocal performance — proves that the members of Agriculture are true students of the game, understanding every aspect of what it means to understand our senses. “Relier”, my personal favorite on the album, is the darkest Agriculture goes on the record; the low throat belts sizzle and simmer, repeating “Relier / Relier / Relier”, but even then the darkness feels set apart from the normal pessimistic aspects of black metal. The spacings between playing and the chunky solo in the middle of the track invite contemplative thought — something that Agriculture have already become masters at. Moments like these become what I call “Dora the Explorer moments,” where your interaction with the music is just as important as the music itself.  

What makes Agriculture stand out from other contemporary post-black projects is the way every section and nuance is used as a building block. The band manipulates motifs in a fashion that prioritizes the theme and character of the music rather than repetitively throwing a dart at the same wall with no deeper intention. By itself, “The Well” seems like a distinct, standout track of the album, abandoning the fuzzy, reverb-heavy lightning tremolo riffs for a stripped-down folk ballad. Contextually, “The Well” acts as an intermission for the rest of the story; the track directly after, “Look, Pt. 1”, carries the same melody and mission as the one before but with the much heavier and grandiose sound Agriculture is usually associated with. The first track, “The Glory of the Ocean”, is expanded (or condensed) with the final track, “The Glory of the Ocean, Pt. 2”, almost as if Agriculture is a play, effortlessly moving through acts and returning to earlier ideas to bring the whole piece together. One of the most exciting things about listening to an album is realizing that the band meant for it to be a project and not just a collection of songs, and Agriculture makes this known very well.  

Cover photo by Sean Ryan Pierce

There is a lot of respect to be had for what Agriculture does. Agriculture doesn’t make “happy music” — they make music to ponder to. “Agriculture” sounds like the dismissal of church service, a walk down the street of neighborhood of lake houses, and the last day of being alive all at once. It’s nice to have a variety of emotions drawn out of you while listening to metal, especially when so much of the rest of it is focused on anger and vengeance. Cheers to more life and more experiences… or: letting things unfold the way they are meant to.  


On their debut album, Agriculture makes it clear that they are the future of blackgaze. Their compositions bring a special sentimentality that shows they are both masters of their craft and understanders of what an audience desires. This is definitely one you won’t want to miss.