Agriculture - The Circle Chant (Self-released)

Agriculture arrive at a timely moment for the Violet Cold fan, hoping the talented musician behind Anomie and Empire of Love can find inner peace after his #online outburst. However that story resolves itself, we can all rest assured that the major-key, reverb-drenched anthems that put Emin Guliyev on the map were neither irreplicable nor even new at the time: They were basically Sunbather on stronger molly. On this tight and lively EP, The Circle Chant, Agriculture show how much ground there is still to tread in this realm of pretty-sounding black metal. They have the chops and juvenescent verve for fiercer tremolos, twin-guitar theatrics, and a tight snare that punctuates everything. They also know how to let less-than-clean production give their instrumental athleticism more color. In this sense, at least, Agriculture are bedfellows with their fellow hype-as-all-get-out Californians, Lamp of Murmuur and Gudsforladt. And yet, like those other acts' best work, Agriculture's entrance onto the scene works because it packages wild melody with compelling aesthetic vision. I have heard some poke fun at the band's name, but they have at least a thoughtfully trv project, with a dope-ass logo and an endearing mission to offer "the spiritual sound of ecstatic black metal." What's more, The Circle Chant's funny jumble of black-metal rippers and contemplative interludes really does bring something "ecstatic" to life. You'll get it, if you know to grin at the tantalizingly abrupt end on the eponymous opener, or to let out that deep breath you didn't know you were holding in, when the ascendant chords on "How to Keep Cool" land snug in the pedal-steel guitar on "The Circle Chant, Pt. 2." It's a closing one-two punch that's euphoric, almost celestial, then suddenly cushy and humid as sun-kissed moss. I call that perfect Geccho habitat.