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




Experimental/Post Metal

3.31 | 41 ratings

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4 stars With this five-song EP, Agalloch deliver previously unreleased material which dates from Jan. 1997 to May 2001. The title track is obviously the most recognizable in terms of the band's traditional sound. Composed during the Pale Folklore era, the song follows the musical theme and vibe of that material, though not containing quite the same manner of conviction in its delivery and execution. Though it is clear to hear why this piece was not chosen for inclusion on the debut, it nevertheless holds it's own as a quality composition. Early Ulver and Katatonia inspirations are here to be heard, yet Agalloch dress these influences in their own unique expressions. Two instrumental pieces follow. The first, "Foliorum Viridium", was composed by Shane Breyer in January 1997 (the earliest piece here), and is actually one of two Breyer pieces on offer. The first is an ambient keyboard piece similar in idea to the phenomenal "The Misshapen Steed" from Pale Folklore. It dwells in the same realm, and has it's moments of beautiful movement, but cannot compare with "The Misshapen Steed" in terms of sheer breathtaking beauty and emotional penetration. Coming closer to reaching this pinnacle is Breyer's "A Poem By Yeats" (Sept. 2000), in which Shawn recites a Yeates text in a ponderous, mournful tone over darksome keyboard orchestrations that seem to flow with the text and tone of the voice. Perhaps the most moving piece on this recording. "Haunting Birds" is an acoustic instrumental composed by John Haughm (Nov. 99) featuring some tasteful percussive accents, working together to create an ancient darkness thick with the smell of burning oak. It's what this band does best. Take you somewhere. It's nearly intoxicating. Most likely destined to be the most memorable and popular track featured on this EP is "Kneel To The Cross", a cover of dark folk troupe Sol Invictus recorded in May 2001. What is interesting is how the band take this piece and turn into their own creation. All good cover songs maintain the essence of the original while being expressed in the covering band's own (hopefully unique) vision. With "Kneel To The Cross", Agalloch succeed and then some. I am one who finds Haughm's cold singing voice attractive, and I am pleased that the band was smart enough to not use the harsh voice as the primary vocal delivery in this adaptation. The harsh voice is used in a very effective manner here, just under the surface of certain sections to provide the bitterness ingrained in this particular sentiment. This EP is an essential item for followers of this highly creative and unique act.
bleak | 4/5 |


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