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Agalloch - Marrow Of The Spirit CD (album) cover

MARROW OF THE SPIRIT

Agalloch

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.82 | 161 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

JJLehto
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I got into Agalloch early summer 2010, and quickly fell in love with what is now one of my favorite bands. So you can understand my excitement when it was announced they were releasing their next album later that year!

When I first listened to this album I was taken by surprise, as many others were. Marrow of the Spirit is much more black metal than anything they have done in a very long time. Maybe not a surprise, after progressively drifting farther from black metal and into atmospheric territory the band makes a return to roots. Still, a bit of a disappointment. At first this sounded like a black metal album, with melodic breaks. However, after listening to album more and more times it really grew on me.

More raw than previous albums, a lot more blast beats and thrashiness than we've seen before. Haughm's haunting clean vocals are largely absent, replaced with his classic rasp. Much of the beloved folk guitar is gone, hidden and just audible under the distortion. While still atmospheric the album has an overall more assaulting feel. This may deter many fans, but please give this album time to sink in.

The album opens with the sounds of a river and birds, while a cello plays over it. The next song starts abruptly, shattering the serene beauty. "Into the Painted Grey" is Agalloch's most intense song. However, while it sounds like a black metal battery, there is still melodicism in the brutality. It takes some listens to really get. Between the bouts of madness is some really nice, melodic playing.

The Watchers Monolith is a post metal song, Agalloch style. Builds and descents, light and dark, always atmospheric (whether beautiful or brutal) and some of the few clean vocals and acoustic guitar you'll hear on the album. A really good song that takes some time to appreciate. It flows right into the next song, Black Lake Nidstang.

This song is worthy of The Mantle, it is one of Agalloch's finest pieces. A 17 and half minute journey that slowly builds and builds, lets you down a bit, then comes back to one of the most powerful moments you will hear. The middle section is beyond words, and when the vocals kick in I almost fell out of my chair the first time. The song gently drifts for a while before going out running. Absolutely mind blowing song. Epic in every sense of the word.

Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires begins with one of the best riffs in Agalloch's discog. Hearing the intro live send shivers down the back of every person at the concert, awe inspiring... but I digress. A song that has it all, really great. My second favorite on the album without doubt. The album ends with "To Drown" which at first I didn't like but also grew on me. Very sparse and subtle, this is pretty much a straight up post rock song! At first sounds like emptiness and noise, but with time you'll see it is really a grand soundscape and powerful song.

Would like to quickly note, Aesop Dekker has taken some flak for his drumming on the record. If you prefer the older style that is fine, but Aesop's drumming is fitting of this album's style, while older drumming was fitting of those albums. While Dekker's drumming is adequate but unspectacular, the same can be said for the drumming in past albums. Virtuosic and show off drumming is not Agalloch's M.O.

A great album, it requires time and listening to fully realize its greatness. Because on the surface it may sound like Agalloch lite and stripped of the essentials, but really it's all still there. The band's maturation continues with Marrow of the Spirit. Dedicated to extreme metal it is tempered with melodicism and patient songwriting.

Four Stars

JJLehto | 4/5 |

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