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Agalloch - The Mantle CD (album) cover

THE MANTLE

Agalloch

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.15 | 377 ratings

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AndyJ
5 stars Agalloch's 'The Mantle' is one of the most perfect blending's of pastoral folk music and extreme metal I've ever heard - its also one of the most thoroughly depressing albums in my collection. This is not music for anyone feeling down or unhappy as it might just push you over the edge. The music is mournful and laden with sorrow, the vocals are emotional and the lyrics utterly bleak.

Musically what we have on 'The Mantle' is deeply atmospheric acoustic guitar driven music with a black metal edge. There are definitely a couple of songs on the record where the black metal style takes over almost entirely, but I wouldn't really call this album black/extreme metal - it has far more 'folky' acoustic moments than anything else. Not to mention that clean vocals dominate, and it is the extreme vocal style, which honestly aren't that extreme on this album, that are put to the side.

In many of the songs it is the acoustic guitar which leads the compositions, and the distortion guitar provides a textured background. Vocally John Haughm is absolutely spot-on in this record, both his raspy 'extreme' vocals and his clean voice are brilliantly executed. There are a great many highlights on this album, none more so than the third track, the instrumental 'Odal' or the lengthy instrumental 'The Hawthorne Passage'.

In many ways 'The Mantle' is the odd one out in the Agalloch discography. It is both totally unique from what came before, 'Pale Folklore', and what came afterwards, 'Ashes Against The Grain'. This is an album from a band not afraid to create a unique piece of art with each release, not caring how it would fit within their discography. It is also the only Agalloch album to feature a great many instrumental tracks, occupying 25 minutes of the total playtime.

Whilst I would say that 'Pale Folklore' and the albums after 'The Mantle' might only be suitable for fans of extreme metal I would definitely encourage any progressive rock fan to check out 'The Mantle'. Yes it does have some 'extreme' moments which might put you off, but there are also some really beautiful instrumental sections which I think might appeal. I'm reluctant to give too many albums a 5-star rating as it diminishes the significance of that rating, but with 'The Mantle' I can't think of any other rating. Easily their best work to-date and for my worth their only 5-star record. Unique, atmospheric and soulful. 5-stars.

AndyJ | 5/5 |

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