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Agalloch - The Mantle CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.13 | 350 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Picture the Decemberists adding death metal to their sound and you have a rough sketch of what THE MANTLE is (Agalloch might be creepier). Come to thought, it makes almost perfect sense if you think of both bands having similar bases but going off in different volume directions and each band finding its own niche in progressive folk.

There's sense involved if you call THE MANTLE a ''post-metal'' album simply because that post-rock niche sound is on display in the cracks here. But the album is moreso folk and metal almost to the point where neither main genre completely dominates. There are plenty of acoustic guitars running about, but the electric guitars have more folky patterns to them as opposed to metal riffs. The metal comes from the volume and the grunts from John Haughm.

I can best describe the mood of the album as sombre and cold, but not completely aloof. It's dark in the ''it gives me goosebumps'' sort; nothing at all to do with depressing, gothic or creepy atmospheres even if I'm thinking ''wicked'' in spots. THE MANTLE bases itself around the mood and sometimes the tension and never focuses on histrionics, something that good albums from this prog sub-section do well.

The lengths of the songs are too tiresome due to how the mood and ''riffs'' (can't find a more suitable word) develop which bolsters two of the centrepiece tracks (''The Hawthorne Passage'' and ''In the Shadow Of Our Pale Comparison''). I would vote for ''The Lodge'' as the strongest track with the floating guitar lines over the top and the odd percussion (according to the credits, it's a deer antler; can't get more folk than that) hit the target spot. The closing track has an accordion(?) in it that makes me think Decemberists again. ''Odal'' and ''Great Cold Death of the Earth'' are the other highlight tracks.

Really, this folk/metal hybrid works quite fluidly and beautifully. If only there was more strength in the vocal department (where comparisons to Comus make sense), then I could really see THE MANTLE hitting new heights.

Sinusoid | 4/5 |


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