Released: 2015, Avantgarde Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
As a Londoner the first thing that springs to mind when I hear Harrow is the London Borough of the same name. In this case, Harrow is in fact a Canadian folk/black metal who have recently released their third full length “Fallow Fields”, and I somehow doubt that's where they get their name from. I wonder if they know what they share their name with?
The album opens with some soft rolling folk style acoustic guitars, the kind you'd here in times past when the people would let out their sorrows around a fire. As the song goes on some Celtic instrumentation is introduced. For me that's always a win, it gives the music a sense of depth, magic and epicness. It's the kind of sound that has such a strong imagery associated with it that it immediately puts you in a certain time, place and atmosphere. Towards the end of the song things gradually slow and die down, creating a really effective atmospheric ending, with the cello and pipes combining to create a spine shivering effect.
The next track opens with more rolling acoustic guitars. The music has a distant feeling, which is enhanced by the subdued clean vocal style which creates a sense of distance. It's actually quite relaxing. The music builds gradually as the guitars are introduced, creating some mood and tension. There's a repeating melody in the background that seems to continue throughout much of the song, which makes it kind of hypnotising. About halfway through things pick up, and the faster bass line comes in followed by some more distorted guitars and some harsh vocals. On the first song the vocals were harsh, but the vocabulary was still comprehensible. On this track it's harder to hear what’s being said. Later on there's another break and build in the song, which is really effective in giving the song that extra drama and atmosphere.
The title track starts off like an early morning. Things seem hopeful, until the music takes a darker tone. It alternates between these two feelings, and again the distant sounding vocals give the music an atmosphere of isolation. The band are really skilled at building tension in their music, to the point in sends shivers through the body. For me, that's exactly what folk black should do, and it's exactly what Harrow manage to do. It's entrancing, almost psychedelic. The kind of music you can lose yourself in.
A deep blown horn sound opens the final song, as gentle acoustic softly fades in. It's like dawn, when the sun is rising and the world is slowly revealed in that fresh, golden kind of light. The blades of grass and drops of dews twinkle in it. Slowly more and more comes to life as the morning creeps closer. The song is slow and atmospheric. A twinkling sound in the background mirrors the dawn chorus of the birds. There are lots of layers and everything pieces together to create that waning and building sound.
With “Fallow Fields”, Harrow have demonstrated that their source of creativity is far from fallow. They're in fact in full bloom, and this is their harvest. The atmospheres are sublime and every element is in just the right place, with the quiet and loud dynamics of the structure working really well where they're used. This is definitely a cut above the rest.
By Jacob Ovington