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Agalloch - The Mantle CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.20 | 413 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars The Mantle was my first foray into Agalloch. Its desolate beauty had me get their next album Ashes Against the Grain. But while AATG has the electric guitars in the forefront, The Mantle is a much more acoustic affair and in my mind a much better album than the follow-up.

This is an album you really want to listen to in the dark and preferably when it is cold. Jamming this in July with the sun up and the car windows down doesn't do it justice. Most all reviewers of this album tell the same tale. This album is dirt road; overcast; forest; snow and doom and gloom. Mix in equal parts hopelessness and helplessness with the thickest layer of melody on top and you have The Mantle. The lyrics only add to the desolation with their grim content. The layers of sound these guys come up with are staggering. The two guitar players both play electric and acoustic and they just build layers with those guitars that spit out melodies to die for. They will sometimes add synths in to build still more layers yet. This stuff isn't metal in its truest form. I can comfortably say that people who don't like prog-metal should give this a try if any of the attributes I have mentioned appeal to them.

As for the vocals, yes there are cookie monster vocals on the album. But four of the nine songs are instrumental and there are long stretches in the other songs with no vocals. Add in the fact that a majority of the vocals are clean and really the cookie monster aspect is minimal and really not bothersome to someone who doesn't care for them (I include myself in that group).

Agalloch is kind of a love 'em or hate 'em type of group. Their website has full length samples which will give you an idea if this band and this album are of interest. All I can say is The Mantle is the type of music that I can get lost in, given the right surroundings. These guys have a true gift in that they can really make the acoustic guitar a shining light in the context of metal, a gift they would get away from on the next release, which was a disappointment to me. But it is hard to blame them for trying something different. The Mantle is a unique album in my discography, one this band or any other will be hard pressed to top in its genre. 4.5 stars.

johnobvious | 4/5 |


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