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Agalloch - Marrow Of The Spirit CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.82 | 176 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Agalloch: Marrow of the Spirit [2010]

Rating: 6/10

Agalloch are one of the best and most intelligent bands of the 21st century. During my formative musical years, they were the band (along with Opeth) that helped expand my musical perspectives outside of bland metal and into more sophisticated/progressive territory. The Mantle is an absolutely flawless masterpiece, and has remained a favorite album of mine for years. Ashes is a near-masterpiece, as well. My love for this band is paramount, so it goes without saying that I was excited back in late 2010 when I found out that they were releasing a new full-length. I was unsure what to expect, because Agalloch takes a different approach to their music on every album they release. However, I did expect something that would progress the Agalloch sound. Instead, this album is regressive in almost every way. This isn't a bad album, but I never would have imagined blast beats, tremolo picking, and muddy production on an Agalloch LP.

"They Escaped the Weight of Darkness" is an extended intro with nature sounds and cello crooning. This isn't an objectionable track, but it's not particularly special, either. The first half of "Into the Painted Grey" is what really threw me off when I first listened to the album. The guitar riffing is uncreative and dull, Haughm's rasps sound amateurish, and the drumming is mediocre. Fortunately, some well-penned riffs during the second-half redeem this track. "The Watcher's Monolith" improves things. The main riff is excellent, and there are some nice folk melodies. This is also the only track that features any clean vocals. Still, this feels sub-par by Agalloch standards. The seventeen-minute "Black Lake Nidstang" is the definite highlight of the album, and the only track here that comes close to fully displaying the band's talent. An epic post-metal/folk intro leads into whispers from Haugm that eventually turn into grotesquely tortured howls. The best part of the album follows: an ambient section that is consistently interesting and atmospheric. "Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires" opens with an almost Frippian guitar line, and the drum work is actually up-to-par throughout (with the exception of the tired blast beats). This is a strong track, but again, it falls short of Agalloch standards. "To Drown" is a track that could have been much more powerful if trimmed slightly. It's a quiet, minimalistic, folky piece with a few pretty moments that get bogged down in needless ambient noise.

Marrow of the Spirit is not a bad album; actually, it's a good one. My main problem with it is that it could have been so much better. This sounds like a debut album from a promising band; it's almost hard to accept that this is in fact the fourth album from a renowned and widely-respected group. Every track here (with the exception of "Black Lake Nidstang") feels underdeveloped and simplistic, especially when compared to Agalloch's previous work. I didn't want a repeat of previous accomplishments, but what I did want was something that built upon those accomplishments. Instead, the band created a work of intentional regression - what a disappointment. It's an enjoyable album, but it's hard to believe that this is the same band that created The Mantle.

Anthony H. | 3/5 |


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