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Agalloch - Marrow Of The Spirit CD (album) cover

MARROW OF THE SPIRIT

Agalloch

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.96 | 208 ratings

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Bonnek
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal Team
3 stars The four year wait since the superb Ashes Against the Grain is over. Such long waits tend to inflate expectations and that's probably why my disappointment with this album is so huge. But frankly, there are so many reasons to be disappointed, and by the look of it I'm not the first.

In a recent PA interview Agalloch expressed their disappointment with the 'polished' sound of Ashes Against the Grain. They promised a return to edgier and rougher material. Well, this confirms again that artist shouldn't always be trusted with their judgments of their own work. Marrow The Spirit can hardly be called rough or raw. It's badly recorded yes, but more importantly, it's a monotonous and dull album that lacks energy and bite. The songwriting is cliché, the riffs are tedious, the melodies entirely predictable. I'm afraid this album misses everything that made The Mantle and Ashes Against the Grain into such marvelous works. Worst of all, it doesn't offer anything in return for everything it sacrifices. Really, if you want raw black metal there's plenty of better options.

From that same interview we could learn that the guitar player has been listening to a lot of RPI and Swedish 90s prog lately. Great, so have I, but just don't expect any trace or influence from that music here. Agalloch emphasizes their black metal roots here next to the know gothic influences from Anathema, Sisters of Mercy, Cure and Fields of The Nephelim. But if you would be looking for progressive influences you won't find many. This is a return to roots album abandoning everything that was progressive about their sound. But again, if you want raw black metal there's plenty of better options.

Even the addition of an extra band-member on the drums didn't add anything new or fresh. Quite the contrary, I much preferred Haughm's relaxed and spacious drumming. I can really do without the tedious and formulaic drumming on this album. And his drum sound is possible worse then the playing. Another change is that the clean vocals have almost been abandoned entirely. Why? It was one of their strongest points and Haughm's rasp can hardly be called the band's main asset. It sounds feeble and underdeveloped.

The songwriting is possible the biggest disappointment, with the sameness in the phrasing, riffs and scales, the songs sound like demo-copies of previous work, but clearly without the melodious embellishments and flashes of genius. The long Black Lake Nidstang dares to leave the trodden paths, only to resort to a shameless cloning of Tiamat's doom wails between minute 7 and 10. The ambient droning section and the echo-y guitar bit that follows between minutes 10 and 14 are the best minutes of the album but they aren't very original neither. I'd suggest Ash Ra Tempel if you want a real satisfactory trip in this style.

Agalloch is only a fraction of what they used to be. Gone are the majesty, the chilling beauty, the inspiration, the magic. Marrow The Spirit is an album that goes through the motions, without so much as touching the intensity of The Mantle or Ashes Against The Grain. Strange, for a record that was meant to be so tough.

Bonnek | 3/5 |

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