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Agalloch - Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor CD (album) cover

OF STONE, WIND, AND PILLOR

Agalloch

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.31 | 40 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars To the casual listener of AGALLOCH's albums, it may be unclear as to whether the band is a black metal band dressed in dark neofolk clothing or a folk band that happens to delve in the metal universe, however it becomes clearer if one is to explore beyond the full-length albums and into the equal number of EPs. While on the albums, the mix is pretty even, on the EPs, most are totally dedicated to dark neofolk with no metal at all. AGALLOCH's first album "Pale Folklore" came out in 1999 and starting with their next release they began a trend that would continue throughout their career. They would release an EP between each album. While most would be completely folk based, this first EP titled OF STONE, WIND AND PILLOR is the exception in that it is an eclectic mix of five tracks that differ quite substantially.

This was intended to be AGALLOCH's debut to be released as a vinyl 7" that would include only the first three tracks: the title track, "Foliorum Viridium" (from the demo) and "Haunting Birds." The title track displays the unique mix of black metal, post-rock and dark neofolk that would catapult AGALLOCH onto the world's stage and become their signature sound. The track is more upbeat than anything else on this EP and would've fit well onto "Pale Folklore" as it emphasizes the shrieked black metal vocals, heavily distorted guitar riffing and atmospheric doom and gloom. The following two tracks "Foliorum Viridium" and "Haunting Birds" are completely different as they are instrumental and non-metal. The former, a haunting orchestrated symphonic affair with choral effects and the latter a recognizable early prototype of the introductory acoustic guitar folk layout that would begin "The Mantle" and would become its signature defining characteristic.

Since the project was put on hold until 2001 and released after the full-length "Pale Folklore," the band decided to add two additional tracks. The first was the Sol Invictus cover "Kneel To The Cross" which offers an orchestrated atmospheric folk tinged melody that is enhanced by the repetitive vocal chants that break into a more recognizable dark neofolk style similar to "The Mantle" but deftly incorporates an interesting clean / shrieked vocal dynamic over the acoustic guitar melodic drive. The last tune is a musical score titled "A Poem By Yeats" which incorporates poetic prose of W.B. Yeats poem "The Sorrow Of Love." This track is another heavily symphonic neofolk offering that displays AGALLOCH's mastery of the darkened acoustic world with layered atmospheric elements. It also includes a beautiful piano run that ushers in a shoegazy mix of keyboards, vocals and echo effects. The melodies are beautiful and soaring as the poetry is reciting in spoken prose.

Although OF STONE, WIND, AND PILLOR was intended to be the debut preceding "Pale Folklore," i find that it works as the perfect bridge that leads up to "The Mantle" as it displays the logical extension from the black metal dominated debut to the more post-rock / dark neofolk laced sophomore album. While the EPs in AGALLOCH's canon have been ignored in favor of their more lengthy full- length albums, this one is quite majestic in its short 28 minute time run. The melodics are melancholic and haunting and while eschewing the metal almost completely displays in perfect form how well AGALLOCH were at concocting sophisticated compositions based on heart-tugging melodies. The only complaint i have is that it has an annoying silent stretch at the end with some pig squeals that finish it off. I wouldn't complain if it were longer either but it is an EP, but a really, really good one nonetheless.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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