Amongst the many shades of black metal, atmospheric and folk have always been the ones I found more interesting. Probably because of the great freedom you have of crafting huge hypnotic soundscapes while preserving the anger of the black metal primary “skeleton”. In the case of Harrow we are mostly in the Folk black metal branch.
When I saw they’re coming from Canada I expected (stupidly, I admit that) them to sound like their fellow citizens Gris and Sombre Forets. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Harrow actually sound a lot like Alda, and I’m not meaning just like they get inspired by them, they truly sound like them, in the vocals, in the melodies, in the atmospheres and even in the production a bit. I’m sorry to say so, but if I wouldn’t have read the info-sheet before pressing play I would have thought that this was the newest Alda’s album.
Besides similarities this album isn’t so bad though. Personally, and quite honestly I found myself mostly enjoying the all-folk parts instead of the ones including some metal stuff. The title track, Fallow Fields, is probably the best number out of this 4-piece collection. In its almost 9 minutes it shown the most intense and touching vocal performance of the album. With his “distant” and operatic voice, singer Ian Campbell gently nurtures us while the nostalgic sound of an acoustic guitar bears his atavistic lyrics.
The next track, Awake Before The Dawn, is quite interesting too. A long, slow and hypnotic crescendo brings to us another great tune of folk music lasting for more than 11 minutes, but I didn’t feel the weight of such length, as the track flows away as a mountain stream reaching for the lake.
All in all, Harrow’s fatigue didn’t fully convince me, I have to say so. I found some great pieces of music put together with less solid tunes. Probably I’d suggest these guys to follow their most folk-ish soul for what concerns their next releases, but of course this isn’t up to me. I feel the more (black) metal oriented moments as too summary and not as engaging as the acoustic parts.
I will surely keep my eyes peeled to see what comes next from Harrow and verify whether they listened to me or not.
1. Pathways 14:21
2. Through the Grey 08:41
3. Fallow Fields 08:54
4. Awake before the Dawn 11:35
Alda – :Tahoma: (USA, 2013)
Green Elder – Offering (USA, 2015)