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Agalloch From Which of This Oak album cover
2.83 | 26 ratings | 8 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Wilderness (11:01)
2. As Embers Dress the Sky (7:49)
3. Foliorum Viridum (5:46)
4. This Old Cabin (10:07)

Total Time 34:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Don Anderson / guitar
- Shane Breyer / vocals
- John Haughm / guitar, percussion, vocals
- Jason William Walton / bass

Releases information

Demo Self-released 1996

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AGALLOCH From Which of This Oak ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(12%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

AGALLOCH From Which of This Oak reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Trickster F.
3 stars The best demo I've had the pleasure to listen to.

This is a very cliché way of beginning a review, but according to the saying, everyone has to start somewhere and Agalloch were not an exception to this rule. From Which of this Oak is the group's demo, recorded two years before their first full-length album, the brilliant debut Pale Folklore saw the light. It is usually a rare case that a demo recording can contain something more than just historical importance, a taste of better things to come from a music collective. Upon first hearing about Agalloch's demo I expected just that, an obscure offering from a great group that would let me dig deeper and find about the group's roots. Needless to say, it was quite surprising to realize that there is more value hidden in this demo than just embryonic shapes of future greatness(something usual for progressively thinking musicians of various 90's Metal scenes).

From Which of this Oak demo consists of four tracks, that don't reach even 35 minutes in length when summed up, not surprisingly for a demo recording. The sound quality here is also average and raw, once again, not surprisingly. Fortunately, every instrument can be heard and, on a brighter side, the recording quality even helps to fulfill the group's compositional and aesthetical aims at the time, at least, according to my ears. I have tried listening to this demo in different ways, and I have concluded that the best and only appropriate way of doing it is experiencing the group's grim landscapes in headphones, lying somewhere without interruption and preferably with the lights turned off. Compared to group's full-length releases, which do not require, to my experience, any special approach and seem suitable in any conditions, including weather, time, mood and the way of listening, From Which of this Oak is quite unique, knowing the above mentioned characteristics I have pointed out.

The album is opened by the epic 11-minute long The Wilderness, which sounds very remote to the group's later output. The sound of it can be compared to certain songs from Pale Folklore, as it is extremely atmospheric, is composed of exceptional guitar melodies and riffs that are blent together perfectly. In addition, the 'feel' Agalloch are known for is already present here. The approach to songwriting seems a bit more straightforward, with certain parts resembling NWOBHM legends, such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. The composition is greatly influenced by the pioneers of Norwegian Black Metal/Folk Ulver and the influence seems more obvious here than on later releases, as the drumming is close to Black Metal standards here, blast beats being used on this particular track. Vocals are also different from the style John Haughm would later use. Instead of the raspy, laid-back way, there are many harsh, "crying" screams, awakening subconscious associations with Burzum, HEart of the Ages-era In The Woods... and Ulver's Bergtatt within the listener. Moreover, I have observed a similarity of guitar twin riffs in this song and the Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal scene; on top of it all, there is something that can be considered a chorus here(!). There are a few melodic acoustic interludes here, an idea the musicians will develop and even perfect later in their career as a group.

The next track is titled As Embers Dress The Sky, and it will be familiar to everyone who has heard Pale Folklore beforehand. No significant changes have been made from this early version of the track, and the only one you notice is the quality of the recording, Haughm's rawer approach to singing and also different sounding of the instruments. Most Agalloch fans will be very pleased hearing what it sounded like two years before Pale Folklore, and will surely recognise the majestic twin guitar duels between John Haughm and Don Anderson, female vocals and the acoustics. One thing that is prominent is the heavy part after the acoustic interlude. On the later version it seems celestial and majestic, whereas this early recording sounds like an ugly, raging Black Metal assault more than anything.

Foliorum Viridum is next, beginning with melancholic piano and choir played on keyboards. The musicians create a remarkable atmosphere here, implementing many keyboards layers at once, which proves that they were never afraid to express themselves without being heavily dependant on borders set by a specific genre. A new version of this creation would be presented on the EP Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor. Although the track is almost six minutes in length, do not let the number fool you. The composition ends at approximately 2:40 and after that This Old Cabin begins. For those who are familiar with what I am saying, this can be compared to the mistake that was done during the recording process of Opeth's Orchid between Requiem and The Apostle In Triumph, just in the reverse, if that makes any sense at all. This Old Cabin starts with a bass line playing, that is then followed by a similar guitar lead, which manages to create a sorrowful mood. Accompanied by whispered vocals this part sounds very dramatic, which makes it even more obvious that this can't be a continuation of the first part of the track. The feel suddenly changes and the song becomes more uplifting, with sung, almost chanted vocals. This is where the composition gets a lot more fun for the ears. The track is well structured and shows constant progression, with some of the parts repeated for our pleasure. The guitar riffs written here are most inspiring - this is the type of riffing, upon encountering which you have a strange feeling, as if they were written concretely for you and this is the riff you've always wanted to hear. The glorious song comes to its end with the first bass line being played again, followed by female vocals for a brief time and a relaxed, melodic ending. It is a pity Agalloch have not put this song on any of their EPs, as I believe that the songwriting here is exceptional. The same can be said about the marvelous The Wilderness, which unfortunately never saw the light either.

The inevitable conclusion, therefore, is that in spite of being a demo with average recording quality, From Which of this Oak is an adventurous creation that shows the musicians of Agalloch exposed with their desire to further innovate the genres they are rooted in and act without any genre limitations. The songwriting here is first-rate, making the album a highly recommend piece of music to those who already consider themselves Agalloch fans and are willing to find out where it all began, as well as those who find atmospheric Black Metal-influenced folk to be the most romantic thing ever. Over a half of material here is exclusive, meaning that you will not be able to witness it anywhere else, however, the other side of the coin is that this demo is nearly impossible to find!

As for those who have yet introduced themselves to the majestic music of Agalloch, I suggest checking out any of their full-length albums, each of them being amazing in its own special way before even thinking about obtaining this offering.

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars The first and most noticeable thing from this record is the lack of production. It really effects the quality of the record, especially given the certain peculiar qualities of Agalloch's music.

A big effect here is the twin guitar usage not unlike the Gothenburg styled metal of early In Flames and early Opeth. There is also a particular black metal quality to it given the delivery of the vocals and the drumming, both of which would be improved upon in later albums. Here, Agalloch really lacks the rustic quality that their music has, and the sound is more grainy, in need of polishing. Those familiar with Agalloch's work will appreciate the finer qualities on this demo and how it let them progress to their overall sound.

There are a few moments that show great promise, but overall this is more of a history lesson for me than anything else. The Mantle would be my first suggestion in discovering this band.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "From Which of This Oak" is a demo release by US post black metal/doom metal act Agalloch, self-released in 1996. Agalloch are quite the prolific act these days, but everyone´s got to start somewhere and this is their first release.

The music on the demo is doomy and dark extreme metal. The vocals are very harsh and raspy. There are some clean singing on the demo too, but those vocal parts are usually hidden behind layers of chorus and reverb. There are also some female singing on the demo which add some extra diversity to the sound.

It´s obvious that the band have some great melodic ideas and the tracks are often led by melodic lead guitar themes. Out of the 4 tracks on the 34:43 minutes long demo, one track is an atmospheric and mostly instrumental track ("Foliorum Viridum"), while the remaining 3 tracks are much longer blackened doom metal tracks.

Considering that "From Which of This Oak" is a demo the sound quality is pretty good, although not of a professional standard. As far as demos go it´s always interesting to hear where it all started for an artist that have achived quite a lot of artistic success since then and "From Which of This Oak" proves to be a decent and promising start to Agalloch´s career. A 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

Review by Petrovsk Mizinski
3 stars This demo is where it all began for Agalloch, released only one year after the band formed and a very interesting demo this is indeed. The production is not exactly top notch, but I feel it actually adds to the rawness of the sound and helps with the general atmosphere of the songs on here. There are four songs on here, and it makes for a surprisingly long demo. To me, this is not a highly evolved or greatly progressive record, especially compared to some of their later work, but it was a sign of great things to come for the band. Yet, despite it not being overly progressive, it is still very creative and a unique album at the time in the metal scene. To really capture what this demo is about, it will require many many listens, and very close listens at that, with an appropriate atmosphere for listening sure to enhance the experience.

The album has a strong black metal influence and also a fair amount of the Gothenburg metal scene influence, much of which is highly evident on the track that starts the demo off, The Wilderness. It's an 11 minute epic, and you can hear the Gothenburg influence almost right away. I admit the very first black metal-esque high pitched shriek we hear makes me cringe as it just seems so much in the vain of stereotypical black metal. Yet for all its black metal/Gothenburg influence, I can still hear something that just makes it feel unique for it's time. Having heard much of their later work before this, I was a little surprised of the inclusion of the guitar solo in this track, since solos are not that common in Agalloch territory, but it fits perfectly here. While there is nothing flashy about the musician here, that doesn't matter here because the general sense of atmosphere doesn't require it. This is weakest song of the demo here, but still a very good song nonetheless.

Embers Dress The Sky has a very Gothenburg influenced sound again, highly evident in the opening riff. The first lot of clean vocals, are very ethereal sounding and I found them quite to be haunting to listen to. The song builds up to a climax of sorts, with again more vocals drenched in heavy reverb, and with females vocals too. After the climatic part, is some delicate, quiet acoustic guitar playing, which builds up to another climatic burst, with aggressive chainsaw guitar riffing. To my ears, the riffing was actually slightly too aggressive sounding for where it stood in the mix, and perhaps not enough time was spent dialing in better tone on the guitar amp, although the latter point I cannot be sure about at all. There are some nice guitar melodies/guitar solos in this section, and there is even a display of a bit of the slightly more technical side of playing. I felt this melodic playing at least helped to counter balance the slightly excessive aggressive riffing.

Foliorum Viridum was on the Of Stone, Wind And Pillor EP, and you will notice they have very different track lengths. This is because Old Cabin actually begins where Foliorum Viridum would normally stop on Pale Folklore . For those of you used to the later Agalloch sound, the keyboards may come as a shock, as it did to me when I first heard this song, as I had only heard Ashes Against the Grain and then this demo straight after before having heard any of their other albums (that have been released at the time of this review). There is a lovely melancholic piano and keyboard choir arrangement from the moment you hit play, and I think it was a very well done approach especially after the first two metal orientated songs. All the keyboard elements here just add up to an incredibly atmospheric and moving piece of music. I love listening to this a lot, and and with Embers Dress the Sky I find it the most moving and emotional songs on the demo.

If you include where Old Cabin begins during the Foliorum Viridum track, this is another epic length song. Like The Wilderness, this is a very Gothenburg/Black metal influenced piece. While not an incredible song by any standards, it's still well written song with some great melodies throughout and progresses in an interesting fashion and I feel the album doesn't end on any real bad note.

While I don't think Agalloch had completely found their style yet, I could still hear their unique stamp written on this demo. To me although I feel it's not essential Agalloch, for those that are curious about the beginnings of Agalloch and want to go back further into their history to see how they evolved into the sound they would display later on, it's a good demo to listen to and enjoy.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Agalloch's first demo is an adequate introduction to the band. It's not the superb atmospheric metal from later years yet but it's an interesting release for metal fans. The production is still rough around the edges but superior to many official black metal albums from the early 90's and the music is quite enjoyable.

The Wilderness is an excellent opener, sounding remarkably similar to Iron Maiden doing a frost-bitten run through their classic material with a high-pitched hoarse shriek behind the mike. Great black metal. As Embers Dress The Sky comes closer to Agalloch's trademark sound and would also end up on the debut. Fast and slightly dissonant riffs build an entrancing groove, similar to Katatonia's Brave Murder Day sound. It introduces Agalloch's clean vocals, slightly hesitant and over-reverbed but with the desired sinister effect. The composition is well-balanced and smart, probably slightly droning to some, but enchanting to my ears.

Fliorum Viridum stars with a classical instrumental piece on keyboards, very symphonic and atmospheric but nothing unusual in this type of 'gothic doom black metal' (another metal sub if you needed one). The second section features slow plodding doom riffs with those typical chilling guitar harmonies that were so popular in those years. This Old Cabin is less remarkable but competent morose black metal, reminding me a lot to Ulver's debut.

Now, how to rate a demo? Fan material by definition. Given that the sound quality is more then acceptable, given that the music is satisfactory and the total length is 35 minutes, a rounded-up 2.5 stars seems appropriate.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'From Which Of This Oak' - Agalloch (6/10)

Having already been active for a decade and a half since this demo came out, Agalloch has certainly developed and refined their sounds very well. Along the way, they have released some absolutely majestic music. With this demo, it is proven that even from the very inception of their work, they knew what direction they were going in. Things are obviously in a very rough and unpolished state here, but as band demonstrations go, this is one of the best I've heard in the realm of metal.

The sound here is alot more along the lines of black metal than on latter releases. Inhuman shrieks, fast paced tremolo picking and a generally lo-fi sound all contribute to the classic 'black' sound. However, even this early on, there is still alot going on that makes the sound unique. There is the presence of more acoustically based instruments, the signature clean vocals of future frontman John Haughm and the same feeling of despair and melancholy that has attracted the band such a dedicated fanbase.

I personally find the low fidelity production to be not a problem at all; all of the instruments and melodies can still be heard. The musicianship here isn't quite up to par with later work however. Shane Breyer's black metal vocal work does not appeal to me nearly as much as the raspier snarl of Haughm, who would later take up all singing roles. Also, things are not quite as tight as they could be, particularly the drumwork; a problem that would also be solved with John Haughm's subsequent switch to guitar and vocal work.

While fans are certainly going to get the most out of this EP, this is one of the few demos I can listen to without simply getting a fan's satisfaction. There is musical depth here in any case, and while only those with an existing appreciation of black metal will take this demo to heart, there is quite a bit else going on here.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars A great debut for a band like Agalloch, that surely demonstrated that they are one of the finest Metal groups today. But in "From Which Of this Oak", they still are an immature, and not -ready-to-rise band. But this is indeed an impressive debut, for being just an EP: in fact, this just might be the best Agalloch EP ever.

The sub genre here isn't Doom Metal yet, like in their following efforts, but it is still very attached to Black Metal roots. The production also is rougher than the other albums, but it cannot be exactly defined as lo-fi, and some interesting folk passages are present.

the EP has four songs:

"The Wilderness", a Black Metal masterpiece, that has everything the genre needs: Black growls, fast shredding guitars, desperate atmosphere, but with interesting acoustic moments. Definitely an underrated song.

"As Embers Dress The Sky" just might be one of my favorite Agalloch songs: great melodies, great performances, a nice delicate part in the middle of the song, and an outstanding grand finale, with shredding guitars. Beautiful.

"Foliorum Viridium", which means " Of the Green Leaves", is an atmospheric piece, that reminds in many moments a fantasy movie score. It is all instrumental. This version is longer and has a different ending than the version of "Of Stone, Wind And Pillor". The finale has electric guitars playing, which is what brought down this amazing song. I prefer the latter version in the other EP. I must say it's a shame it never ended in a studio album.

"This Old Cabin" is what, in my opinion, really brought down the rating of the album. A little too long, but it has some nice moments here and there. Similar to "The Wilderness", but nowhere near as good.

This album has it's moments, that's for sure, I would surely listen to it if I was a Black Metal fan, or even a fan of the band. It also has some interesting moments that could be easily be defined as progressive. 3.5 stars.

Review by JJLehto
2 stars The debut work by Agalloch, this may surprise fans of their later work.

This demo is the closest Agalloch got to black metal. While still closely rooted to black metal, (and indeed shares many of its tenets) even with this early release we see Agalloch branching off from the tree.

This is a pretty low fi recording, with a healthy bit of tremolo picking, double bass, blast beats, and raspy shrieks. However, this is not your standard black metal release. While raw, it's not nearly as low fi as most black metal. Which is good since you can hear everything but still get that raw, gritty black metal feel.

However, it's the songwriting that sets this apart from the norm, and makes it a really good album. These are not 7 minute long walls of frantically tremolo picked guitar and blast beats. Black metal is built on its simplistic, rarely changing song structures and sonic assaults. This demo has pretty progressive song writing, actual riffing and musical talent. There is even use of acoustic guitar and clean vocals. Not too often does the music descend into sonic barrages and in fact is often quite beautiful.

A really impressive demo. Even here Agalloch displays wonderful songwriting ability and creativity. The only other band I can think of with a similar sound at the time was Ulver, and while Garm may have created the atmospheric, progressive folk tinged style of black metal, this demo has a different feel than Ulver's work.

The second song can drag at times, and many metal heads will struggle with this style, either due to its progressive nature or rawness, but this is an impressive release.

I personally give "From Which of this Oak" a rating of THREE STARS, but while this album is progressive, it does not have enough actual prog for fans of non metal. If you have no taste for metal than this will be terrible for you. However, a good work for fans of metal. Therefore, for this site I give it a rating of:


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