Fri, Jul 19
LODGE ROOM PRESENTS

Ragana

Agriculture

FEATURING
Split Static,


DOORS 7:30PM | SHOW 8:30PM
ALL AGES

Ragana

Ragana is a duo whose members alternate duties on drums, guitar, and vocals to produce some of the most unique and affecting dark music in metal today. The two-piece came together in 2011 in the DIY punk scene of Olympia, WA and are now based in Olympia and Oakland, CA. In their time together so far, Ragana have self-released 5 albums and teamed up with genre-favourite Thou for a split release in 2018. The following year, Ragana released their heralded We Know That the Heavens Are Empty EP and have quietly been working on new music ever since. The band signed with The Flenser in late 2022 and now announce their forthcoming debut LP for the label, Desolation’s Flower.

On Desolation’s Flower, Ragana draws upon a number of influences from the flora and fauna of their Pacific Northwest origins to the darkly nostalgic folk of Mt. Eerie and, yes, their Olympian forebears Wolves In The Throne Room, synthesizing them into an experimental, highly idiosyncratic take on black metal. Held together by an intense focus on raw emotion and haunting atmospherics, Ragana shifts seamlessly from tender, mesmerizing vocal harmonies to piercing, heart-ripping screams and back again, yielding music that is heavy, beautiful and punishing all at once.

Written over the past few tumultuous years, Desolation’s Flower is the band’s most devastating effort to date, containing seven incantations of loss, rage, pain and hope. Expertly engineered by the masterful Nicholas Wilbur at the Unknown Studio in Anacortes, Washington (Planning For Burial, drowse, Divide and Dissolve, Have a Nice Life), the album serves as the culmination of the past decade plus of the band’s ethos and execution.

The album’s eponymous album opener sets the theme for the record and embodies the spirit of Ragana: “a hymn of gratitude for queer and trans ancestors, known or unknown, by blood or affinity, whose joy and survival make our lives possible, and whose memory inspires and helps us resist the tide of increasingly visible hatred and oppression,” the band explains. Pain mourns and celebrates a childhood best friend lost to an overdose, excavating beneath shame and sadness, to stand in the pain and the joy together. Side B opener “DTA,” an acronym for “Death To America,” starts as a questioning whisper and ends in a crying scream. The song fuses together the sounds of a riot unfolding in the streets of Oakland, emphasizing the message that this song is a zeitgeist of the times. Death is an inspiration for the album from start to finish and the Desolation’s Flower examines all facets of it; “Death is a new beginning, just a word to inspire a different vision of a future,” Ragana comments. Album closer “In the Light of the Burning World” brings Desolation’s Flower all together: the final lyric laments “We live in the light of the burning world,” cascading from rage and survival into catharsis and compassion.

 

Agriculture

For something to be “ecstatic,” the feelings and emotions it evokes must transcend what we tend to experience most regularly in our lives. Ecstatic joy isn’t just happiness; it’s a feeling of jubilation which impacts us emotionally and in a metaphysical, arguably spiritual sense too. Although it has long been associated with connotations of the dark and macabre, extreme music has the ability to be a powerful mode of expression for these feelings of absolute bliss, overwhelming love, and awe-inspiring sublimity. Extreme emotions no less and those which black metal quartet Agriculture evokes with its ecstatic subversion of the subgenre’s tropes.

What was initially a meeting and subsequent series of jam sessions between Kern Haug and Daniel Meyer, two musicians in the Los Angeles underground noise scene, would eventually manifest as a shared vision to portray the sublimity of the human experience through the vehicle of heavy music. Following the additions of veteran guitarist Richard Chowenhill and bassist/vocalist Leah Levinson to the band’s lineup, this idea would crystalize into the “ecstatic black metal” backbone of Agriculture’s music, first heard on the band’s 2022 debut EP, The Circle Chant.

With Agriculture’s self-titled record and first full-length LP, it’s abundantly clear that the band’s use of heavy music to showcase the most resplendent emotions and moments of the human experience has a far deeper meaning. Woven between the flurries of soaring tremolo picking, crescendoing guitar harmonies, celebratory screamed vocals, thoughtful improvisation, and meditative atmospheric passages is the record’s mission statement to experience the wonders and joys of both the esoteric and physical world. From examinations of self-acceptance, identity, and finding strength in others on “Look Pt.2” to depictions of deep communion with nature, the self, and the people we surround ourselves with in “The Glory of the Ocean” and “The Well”, the concepts and thematic questions previously planted by the band have blossomed into powerful, fully-realized artistic and philosophical statements. To put it in the band’s words, “…Where The Circle Chant is like a finger pointing at the moon, the self-titled LP is like a whole body screaming at it with reverence.” Through the extreme splendor of ecstatic black metal and the improvisational, experimental, and cathartic elements it embodies, Agriculture illustrates these otherwise incomprehensible questions with a poignant beauty that makes its music as much of an artistic statement as it is a transcendental experience.