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Agalloch - The Mantle CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.13 | 350 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A surprising and sometimes delightful album.

The sub-genre under which this is housed is misleading. Yes, there are elements of metal in the sound, but the overall shape of the compositions is post-rock/post-metal. This is important because, as it is currently labeled, people may spend money to purchase this album under the impression it is a DREAM THEATER clone. It most emphatically is not.

So what is it? AGALLOCH is much closer to ISIS or PELICAN than to anything in the progressive metal genre. Ponderous, slow beats provide a base for slow-building soundscapes in which crisp acoustic guitars plays the most prominent role. The emphasis is on the organic nature of the songs themselves rather than technical virtuosity. The vocals - both clean and growled/whispered - are generally low in the mix. The resulting sound is a fascinating fresh take on post-rock.

The first track is a little long for an introduction and does not develop, which is to my mind the chief fault of the album: it's simply too long for the weight of ideas it contains, a fifty minute album wearing seventy minute clothes. This is, of course, a characteristic of the post-rock genre, and has the effect of creating an ambient-like atmosphere, where ideas are prolonged. The second track, 'In the Shadows of our Pale Companions' - even the track titles are post-rock - is perhaps the album's best, and has an excellent build to the climax a few minutes from the end.

And so it goes. I appreciate the band's use of interesting instruments: faux horns and the like do dress up the music. The last track creates an almost optimistic atmosphere, counter to the general tense, brooding soundscape of the album, and is an effective closer.

Worth a listen for fans of post-rock, but not quite the groundbreaker I had been hoping for.

russellk | 3/5 |


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