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Agalloch - The Mantle CD (album) cover

THE MANTLE

Agalloch

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.08 | 280 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars (2007 DISCLAIMER: Well, after one year and the opportunity to modify my reviews now that I'm a reviewer, let me just say that the review below has a serious flaw: Agalloch is NOT black metal by any means. I've left the review unchanged as I consider it entertaining and my points are somewhat valid, but please don't pay much attention to the black metal aprts, as that was truly a mistake. And try Agalloch's following album, ASHES AGAINST THE GRAIN, where the drummer has improved a lot and the music itself has gotten better).

Well, seems like I'm going to be the one who'll write the first negative review of this album on this website. The question is, why? Why does everybody praise this band and particularly this album so much? I guess I could give an idea with this few points.

-First, let's assume this is prog-metal, but let's also make it clear where this band is coming from in musical terms: this is black metal, prog or not, it stars as black metal. Now, why everybody loves them? Again, maybe because this is:

-black metal without real noise and violence...good

-black metal with long songs... not bad

-black metal with black metal vocals (shrieking high-pitched guttural yelling) mixed with clean vocals... interesting.

-black metal with some piano and especially a lot of acoustic guitars...now that sounds like something worth listening to!

-black metal without leather spikes, devil signs, facial makeup or upside down crosses....deserves a chance, doesn't it?

Yes, this all sounds very promising and it looks like we've got a real winner here...Then we take the cd out of the case (which, by the way, comes with a very elegant, discreet, non-blackmetal-like booklet, I have to recognize this), we put it on the cd- player, we press play...immediately we found ourselves in a dreamy, forest-like atmosphere...acoustic guitar....yes! It seems we're in for a fantastic ride! Then we keep listening....we keep listening.... the surroundings turn to grey... everything becomes blurry....is the music hypnotizing us? Is it so good? Well, a few minutes later we'll know the answer, when we finally.....

....fall asleep.

Then we wake up, we got upset with ourselves for being so weak for falling asleep in the midst of such a journey, so now, with our eyes wide open, (maybe a coffee in order to make sure it won't happen again) and we press PLAY again.... and what happens now? We get the answer to the question, why did I fall asleep. And it is:

boredom

And, with our minds clear, we analyze again the points I just mentioned at the beginning:

-yes, here we have no violence, no noise... but we almost don't have dynamics!!! Almost the whole album sounds at a set volume level...there's no crescendos or diminuendos...there are no changes...It seems we could've used some noise after all, just for the kick of it....

-yes, songs are long, but...TOO LONG AND INCOHERENT....I mean, we all love complex structures, we all applaud when some band takes a different route than the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus one....but all kinds of music give you at least some point of reference, some repetition, something that at least resembles a chorus or a focal point so the music's narrative has a purpose, a goal....here, the songs begin in point A, and they end in point F, without ever revisiting points A, b,c,d,or e again....maybe keeping songs a little bit shorter would've helped....

-yes, there are some clean vocals....but let's keep that "clean" part in observation, for these "clean" vocals are not melodic, soulful, but a monodic, monotone, and distorted echo thing...but hey, in this point I'll be less harsh: at moments this voice sounds interesting, especially when compared with the atrocious guttural shrieks... the clean vocie comes as heaven after the shrieking hell...I really prefer cookie-monster vocals when I have no chance but to deal with a death/black metal kind of voice...at least those are in lower register and, when used properly, they can convey the idea of the devil or some dark entity, but this vocals, they convey the idea of a gremlin like creature pleading for mercy!...And to add insult to injury...it's only 30% clean vocals and like 70% gremlinvoice!!!...

-yes, there's a lot of unusual instrument for black metal...but, any drummers here? I am one, and any person who knows anything about percussion can tell: there's some HORRENDOUS drumming going on...these three guys in Agalloch don't want to hire a drummer it seems...they better do, for Haughm is really worse than I can bear....and about the piano and guitar: they could use some better soloing, but well, they make this thing listenable.

-yes, they have no makeup or black leather spikes or upside down crosses or anything like that, but....well, actually there's no criticism here. Well done fellas!

So that's my take on this overrrated album. I don't describe songs for two reasons: one, all of them sound alike, and two, I can't remember any!! (I swear I've given this disc more than 4 spins before sitting down to write this)....

Do you want interesting death/black metal with prog elements? Try Opeth, try old Amorphis.

This one is not awful, but it's not great as everybody seems to believe. It's a flawed, rushed, self indulgent album. This 3 guys have talent (except for the drumming!!) but in order to achive the greatness many people think they already have, I think they have a long, long road to travel....

Recommended for: people who, like me, want to experience every music you find on this website.

Not recommended for: people who want to listen to it while driving long highways at midnight...it could be dangerous...you could fall asleep and crash...and maybe die...and if you were bad, maybe meet the devil, or worse, the gremlin-like creature that sings on this album

The T | 2/5 |

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