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Agalloch - The Serpent & The Sphere CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

3.68 | 87 ratings

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3 stars Agalloch's 'The Serpent And The Sphere' is the fifth full length album from the Portland based experimental metal band, and it finds the band stuttering and struggling for creativity.

It pains me to describe this record in such a way. Agalloch have long been a firm favourite of mine, their first three full-length works; 'Pale Folklore', 'The Mantle' and 'Ashes Against The Grain', I consider to be truly excellent recordings and utterly essential. However the style of music the band developed on the 2006 album 'Ashes Against The Grain' has now been repeated for the last two outings without much, if any variation, and in my opinion to a lower standard than the afore mentioned 'Ashes'.

Now it isn't to say that 'The Serpent' isn't good, it just feels rather too derivative of the previous outputs from this band. There isn't anything particularly ground-breaking here. Where-as the first three albums were all unique and different to each other, and showed a band progressing and trying new things, with this record, and its predecessor, 'Marrow Of The Spirit', Agalloch feel more like they are stuck in a formula.

Furthermore the feeling I get from this record is a sense of exclusiveness (rather than inclusiveness) and it's somewhat cold towards the listener, particularly with the crushingly heavy but rather sterile opening 10 minute track. When I listen to an Agalloch album I want, above all else, a sense of atmosphere. Unfortunately that feels somewhat lacking here. If you weren't already familiar with the post metal style I doubt that 'The Serpent' would win you over.

But I feel I am being a little critical with my review up until now. Be under no doubt, there are some excellent moments here, particularly in the tracks 'Dark Matter Gods', and the (almost) closing track 'Plateau of the Ages'. Agalloch are a band I hold in the highest regards, I love their approach to metal and music in general, I just feel that with 'The Serpent And The Sphere' they were running on empty a little bit in terms of creativity.

I'd suggest any new listeners to Agalloch should probably start with either 'The Mantle' or 'Ashes Against The Grain'. This is a good, but not essential. Very definitely 3-stars.

AndyJ | 3/5 |


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