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Agalloch - From Which of this Oak  CD (album) cover

FROM WHICH OF THIS OAK

Agalloch

 

Experimental/Post Metal

2.82 | 21 ratings

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Petrovsk Mizinski
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This demo is where it all began for Agalloch, released only one year after the band formed and a very interesting demo this is indeed. The production is not exactly top notch, but I feel it actually adds to the rawness of the sound and helps with the general atmosphere of the songs on here. There are four songs on here, and it makes for a surprisingly long demo. To me, this is not a highly evolved or greatly progressive record, especially compared to some of their later work, but it was a sign of great things to come for the band. Yet, despite it not being overly progressive, it is still very creative and a unique album at the time in the metal scene. To really capture what this demo is about, it will require many many listens, and very close listens at that, with an appropriate atmosphere for listening sure to enhance the experience.

The album has a strong black metal influence and also a fair amount of the Gothenburg metal scene influence, much of which is highly evident on the track that starts the demo off, The Wilderness. It's an 11 minute epic, and you can hear the Gothenburg influence almost right away. I admit the very first black metal-esque high pitched shriek we hear makes me cringe as it just seems so much in the vain of stereotypical black metal. Yet for all its black metal/Gothenburg influence, I can still hear something that just makes it feel unique for it's time. Having heard much of their later work before this, I was a little surprised of the inclusion of the guitar solo in this track, since solos are not that common in Agalloch territory, but it fits perfectly here. While there is nothing flashy about the musician here, that doesn't matter here because the general sense of atmosphere doesn't require it. This is weakest song of the demo here, but still a very good song nonetheless.

Embers Dress The Sky has a very Gothenburg influenced sound again, highly evident in the opening riff. The first lot of clean vocals, are very ethereal sounding and I found them quite to be haunting to listen to. The song builds up to a climax of sorts, with again more vocals drenched in heavy reverb, and with females vocals too. After the climatic part, is some delicate, quiet acoustic guitar playing, which builds up to another climatic burst, with aggressive chainsaw guitar riffing. To my ears, the riffing was actually slightly too aggressive sounding for where it stood in the mix, and perhaps not enough time was spent dialing in better tone on the guitar amp, although the latter point I cannot be sure about at all. There are some nice guitar melodies/guitar solos in this section, and there is even a display of a bit of the slightly more technical side of playing. I felt this melodic playing at least helped to counter balance the slightly excessive aggressive riffing.

Foliorum Viridum was on the Of Stone, Wind And Pillor EP, and you will notice they have very different track lengths. This is because Old Cabin actually begins where Foliorum Viridum would normally stop on Pale Folklore . For those of you used to the later Agalloch sound, the keyboards may come as a shock, as it did to me when I first heard this song, as I had only heard Ashes Against the Grain and then this demo straight after before having heard any of their other albums (that have been released at the time of this review). There is a lovely melancholic piano and keyboard choir arrangement from the moment you hit play, and I think it was a very well done approach especially after the first two metal orientated songs. All the keyboard elements here just add up to an incredibly atmospheric and moving piece of music. I love listening to this a lot, and and with Embers Dress the Sky I find it the most moving and emotional songs on the demo.

If you include where Old Cabin begins during the Foliorum Viridum track, this is another epic length song. Like The Wilderness, this is a very Gothenburg/Black metal influenced piece. While not an incredible song by any standards, it's still well written song with some great melodies throughout and progresses in an interesting fashion and I feel the album doesn't end on any real bad note.

While I don't think Agalloch had completely found their style yet, I could still hear their unique stamp written on this demo. To me although I feel it's not essential Agalloch, for those that are curious about the beginnings of Agalloch and want to go back further into their history to see how they evolved into the sound they would display later on, it's a good demo to listen to and enjoy.

Petrovsk Mizinski | 3/5 |

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