Agriculture’s new EP Living is Easy sees the band carry through on the current of momentum established by last year’s self-titled LP, which saw them establish joyous, ecstatic black metal as their signature. This stood them alone as a streak of colour in what can be a sea of monochromatic doom. Living is Easy sees the band pick up where they left off and fill out new corners of their rich sound.

The titular opener is a fresh cut of their signature celebratory metal, harnessing the atmospheric expanse of black metal to herald light in place of darkness, like a sunrise refracting off morning tides. The band feels like such a breath of fresh air in a genre that can feel so anchored to misanthropy and darkness, whereas Agriculture step away from the cave-dwelling to make black metal a little less agoraphobic. The triumphant tremolo-picked guitar melody blows full force through the track’s crescendo, atop the crashing of percussion like waves onto rocky coastlines. As an opener, it sets the tone as unapologetically enrapturing whilst not afraid to touch on heaviness and black metal tropes, transporting them into a different realm. It’s easy to bring up blackgaze acts like Deafheaven – especially their landmark record Sunbather, which Agriculture’s sound definitely evokes – but Agriculture have whittled out a niche that they set in relatively to themselves among a forest of black metal pioneers who take the genre to new frontiers.

The band’s explorations into folk help them carve out this nook. Earthy and intimate, the bands combination touches base with the alt/indie folk of Phil Elverum’s projects Mount Eerie and The Microphones, the prior of which also dabbled in black metal on Wind’s Poem. Agriculture’s first folky effort on Living is Easy, ‘Being Eaten By A Tiger’ lays bare, with guitar chords strummed under quiet singing. “If I knew the shape of my face before I was born, I would not be afraid to die” opens the track, standing alone in the track’s relative silence. As it progresses, ravenous noise starts to gnaw away at the track as stuttering percussion begins to rumble before the whole thing wilts into silence.

‘In The House of Angel Flesh’ opens with guitars that are a bit discordant, before the prevailing melody emerges. After the lull of ‘Being Eaten By A Tiger’, the song feels all the more soaring. In the middle section of the track, the rattling blast beats fall away to make way for an anthemic falling-and-rising segment with an addictive guitar line underneath it all. If Godspeed You! Black Emperor did guitar solos, this is what they’d sound like. This sections then crashes out into a bass solo that establishes the cacophony to come. Biting and gnarled, the track takes on a heavy dose of heaviness and screams and spoken vocals overlap as the guitars become manic. Screeching past the finish line, the track concludes with the spoken words standing alone: “It comes to you sometimes, but only when you stop looking.”

The EP closes out with a spoken word track, ‘When You Were Born’, which feels fitting considering how ‘In The House of Angel Flesh’ finished up. There’s a few lyrics that stick out on this one for me. “You found light in the gentle friction between sense and reality” and “There were many flowers like you in bloom then. Now, they toss atop bedsprings just to keep from eddying under. Their hands grip each other’s to try and stay afloat, and amidst the struggle, pleasure darts between them.” These feel really pertinent to what Agriculture represent in the black metal world. A unity and light-bringing to what can be a very insular and hateful scene. Agriculture, like circle dance on the cover, grip each other’s hands and make joy among the dissonance and negativity that can be overwhelming.

Agriculture: Living is Easy/The Circle Chant – Out 3rd May 2024 (The Flenser)

– Living is Easy (Official Video) (