The Spirit Rises - Agony Column - Way Back In The Woods
Label: No Bull Records - 34174-2 • Format: CD Album • Country: Austria • Genre: Rock •
Best viewed without Internet Explorer, in x resolution or higher. Southern metal. Is that a real genre? To me, Southern metal bands were always metal bands first, augmented consciously with a Southern tinge. Agony Column were the exact opposite, they were Southern rock dudes first and added the metal to it, making it all the more real. You know these dudes are all-American and legit about it to the very core: the confederate flags and cattle skulls, pitchforks and barbed-wire.
This is who they are. Way Back In The Woods could easily be an old-school country record if they unplugged the electric guitar. They would totally get away with it, too. Only to call this "stoner" or "doom" would be an insult to how original this is, I'm just saying that stoner and doom fans would find more to Hula Love - Buddy Knox - Greatest Hits here than they may realize.
Only you wouldn't catch me dead listening to Bob Seger. The metal needed to be there, too On A Train Ride - Slapp Happy, City Preachers, Commuters, Anthony Moore, Slapp Happy Featuring Antho make Agony Column special, which they were. Nothing else sounded anything close to it at the time The Spirit Rises - Agony Column - Way Back In The Woods being "Southern" within metal seemed to be something bands avoided like the plague.
Southern metal hadn't been Los Angel-ized yet. Their ability to actually thrash it up a bit opened some eyes and it was hard to criticize because it was obvious they wrote what they knew and what they felt. Sometimes, especially in the lyric department, it got a bit silly. But it was fun and the record had great energy it sounds lethal on good headphones.
It was a grand showcase of whiskey-fueled speed metal which showed them to be young with incredible promise once maturity caught up to them. Brave Words was a minor let-down on album 2 as the songs were a bit less polished and under-produced, though as part of the Agony Column Blood Not Milk - Magrudergrind - Sixty Two Trax Of Thrash (2002-2005), it's a perfect transitional record between the first and third.
They slowed down a bit more, but the inspiration behind the songs was lacking in regard to the first, which is a minor cult classic. That's not to say that Brave Words didn't have its moments, because I still (Well) Thats All Right - Howlin Wolf - Memphis Days - The Definitive Edition, Vol.
1 a lot of that The Spirit Rises - Agony Column - Way Back In The Woods . Way Back In The Woods shows a band removed from their angsty youth, far more mature and now quite accomplished in song-writing. This record was written for themselves, as if to say the record company and industry b.
The thrash energy is almost totally removed, but it's a non-issue because of the consistent quality and the vibe they put out for over an hour. It's got its central riff which is similar to a Bay Area sound or even the fast double-picking that Iced Earth did so well. While the riff continually ascends, it's kept in check by the drumming, which is very bluesy and restrained only to break into almost-thrash at the peak of the tune around This will bang your head.
Start to finish, The Spirit Rises - Agony Column - Way Back In The Woods is the heaviest of the offerings here. While the thrash riffs appear in several more places, they never dominate as thrash riffs often do, rather they act as support to what the rest of the band is doing. So, even when the band is cutting loose, the restrained excellence is never compromised. The drums often half-time to make sure the vibe stays steeped in the chill zone. The solos are awesome. Like "the spotlight is on, brothers, don't step on my toes" awesome leads, like what Miles Davis or Coltrane might do if they played rhythm guitar in These solos are singing at you, while the band behind just waits patiently keeping the place until it all comes back together again.
There's some fun tongue-in-cheek humor found here, too. Like in "Small Black Toad," sung from the perspective of a, literally, small black toad who keeps finding himself stuck in some very human predicaments.
It's hilarious, really. And appears to be The Spirit Rises - Agony Column - Way Back In The Woods stab at the ever-expanding theory that humans can, and will, fuck up anything.
That's my take anyway. After all, he's "just a toad. Think Eric Wagner of Trouble on the first 3 Trouble records before major label polish cleaned him up a bit. That's actually an apt comparison.
It's never bad on the first 2 Agony Columns there were a couple of points where it did sound a bit like he was out of his range and struggling with it I can't imagine anyone else singing this, except maybe Wagner in the high-register sections.
The voice here isn't a natural singing voice, but it's got that "has to be metal to get away with" feel. It's never a problem, it's just a thing to get used to. You'll forgive it. And you should enjoy the overall quality of these songs and the legitimacy found within. To me, the real Southern metal genre consists of one band. Agony Column. The third and final album "Way Back In The Woods" shows a more laid-back band having gained some wisdom in life, now sitting on a rocking chair on the porch of their house in the middle of the swamp, but still with a rifle in hand ready to kill anyone who gets near.
This is definitely their weakest album, and the least all-out lethal, and there isn't much killer riffage at all. No pure thrash riffs are obvious in the music, though the guitar work of songs such as "The Spirit Rises", "Obey The Command" and the epic "When The Dark Clouds Return" still has some thrashy vibes in it.
The music in general is more laid-back and can be pretty great if you're in the right mood, and the mood is pretty similar to what they've always been doing, only more settled-down. The country-style on their music is not quite that evident in the music, but rather in the mood on songs such as "Way Back In The Woods" and "Silver Spoon".
Also, it must be mentioned that this song is more deep, with lyrics that reflect over life in general most of the time, like "The Spirit Rises", or the anti-self destructive lyrics of "Silver Spoon" and "Whiskey Bottle", and it doesn't quite have the weird sense of humor in the violent redneck lyrics anymore.
Although some of it can still make you crack a smile, like the great title track. Yeah, good stuff. I'd say the title track is in fact my favourite song on here. Same thing with the 9-minute "Silver Spoon", with mellow vocal and guitar melodies that just get to me on a personal leve, and a long, brilliant solo section to boot. Come to think of it, this is my favourite track on here.
The other epic, "When The Dark Clouds Return" has some almost "Night of the Stormrider"-like triplet riffage but used in a very different way, more for a brooding effect than the hard-hitting intensity of classic early Iced Earth stuff.
Many of the songs are really mellow, yes, but this is very metal, make no mistake. Out of the more riff-heavy songs, I'd say the rager "Obey The Command" is definitely the strongest, and probably the third greatest song on here. Catchy, melodic riffage combined with the crushing, fast-paced thrashy under-verse stuff, awesomely vicious, almost growling vocals, and a hard-hitting chorus.
Obey the command! Don't fall to confusion you must understand, your hunger's the order so obey the command! The middle section is crazy too. Agony Column have spoken and you shall obey. Another mentionable of the riff-heavy numbers would be "The Night Has A Eyes", if only for that perfect opening. Very good stuff, another total winner. And we must not forget the humorous "Small The Spirit Rises - Agony Column - Way Back In The Woods Toad", which is about Pretty pointless lyrics, but damn funny that they'd make a song about it.