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AGALLOCH

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Agalloch biography
Formed in Portland, Oregon, USA in 1995 - Disbanded in 2016

The essence of AGALLOCH'S music is a combination of cold, dark sorrow and natural aesthetic beauty. The foundation of the band began in late 1995 when a doom/death project called Aeolachrymae was reduced to a pile of ash. From those ashes, three bands were born - SUSURRUS INANIS, NOTHING and AGALLOCH. The primary goal in the beginning was to create majestic and epic dark metal. This vision was shared by the two main creators; John Haughm and Shane Breyer. In early 1996, a few songs slowly started to take form and in the summer, a second guitarist, Don Anderson was found. Later in the autumn, the debut demo "From Which Of This Oak" was recorded and shortly after its release, a permanent bassist - Jason William Walton Joined the effort. In early 1998 AGALLOCH recorded a new promo tape for labels only. The uniqueness of that promo earned the band a deal with The End Records and in January of 1999 they entered the studio to record their debut album.

The album, entitled "Pale Folklore", was released in June of 1999 and received much acclaim for it's grim concepts and folkloric aesthetics. Throughout 2000, the band kept a very low profile until finally emerging again with the release of a limited MCD entitled "Of Stone, Wind and Pillor" in mid 2001. This is a collection of unreleased material from 1998 - 2001 and includes a cover of Sol Invictus' "Kneel to The Cross". This cover also appears on Cynfierdd's "Sol Lucet Omnibus", a 2CD tribute to SOL INVICTUS. From late 2001 - early 2002, the band recorded their second album. Entitled "The Mantle", the album is a 70 minute epic which brings to life a darker, more bleak view of the world through more transcendental, existential, and nihilistic motifs. "The Mantle" is an expression of longing, decay, and the desperation of hope.

In 2006, the band released their third full length album "Ashes Against The Grain", which marked a shift towards a more stripped down sound compared to previous releases. Following in 2008 was "The White EP", a limited release which saw an increased aesthetical focus on acoustics and ambient soundscapes. AGALLOCH are set to release their fourth studio album, entitled "Marrow of the Spirit" in November of 2010. The release includes Aesop Dekker on drums, Dekker has previously toured and performed with AGALLOCH following the release of "Ashes Against The Grain". AGALLOCH also released a live DVD named "The Sile...
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AGALLOCH discography


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AGALLOCH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 162 ratings
Pale Folklore
1999
4.15 | 384 ratings
The Mantle
2002
3.90 | 228 ratings
Ashes Against The Grain
2006
3.96 | 208 ratings
Marrow Of The Spirit
2010
3.68 | 89 ratings
The Serpent & The Sphere
2014

AGALLOCH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AGALLOCH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.04 | 15 ratings
The Silence of Forgotten Landscapes
2009

AGALLOCH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.23 | 9 ratings
The Demonstration Archive
2008
4.40 | 5 ratings
The Compendium Archive
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Wooden Box
2010
4.67 | 6 ratings
Whitedivisiongrey
2011

AGALLOCH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.84 | 24 ratings
From Which of this Oak
1996
3.31 | 41 ratings
Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor
2001
2.26 | 26 ratings
Tomorrow Will Never Come
2003
2.05 | 29 ratings
The Grey
2004
3.00 | 1 ratings
Agalloch / Nest Split Single
2004
3.55 | 64 ratings
The White EP
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Where Shade Once Was
2010
3.98 | 38 ratings
Faustian Echoes
2012
3.71 | 7 ratings
Celestial Effigy
2014

AGALLOCH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Mantle by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.15 | 384 ratings

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The Mantle
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars Agalloch have managed to masterfully combine the power of darker and heavier rock with elements of folk, creating the ideal space to develop a dense, powerful and heartbreaking doom sound, but at the same time clean and nostalgic, in long developments where the intensity doesnīt decay. The Mantle, 4 years after his excellent debut with Pale Folklore, is the confirmation of a unique proposal, where the desolate and depressing winter landscapes contain the strength and drama of the best of the genre, incorporating all the sound distortion with the brilliance of Acoustic guitars that provide an ideal counterbalance to a gloomy atmosphere, the powerful riffs of electric guitars and the guttural voice of John Haughm.

They didnīt need songs with profuse lyrics to make their message clear, in fact A Celebration For The Death Of Man, Odal, The Lodge and The Hawthorne Passage are instrumental. The latter contains in its last minute a small conversation in Spanish regarding the taste for burials, but it is practically instrumental.

Although all the work maintains a similar level, I can highlight as outstanding the eternal In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion of more than 14 minutes, Odal, with its deep melancholy, the powerful You Were But A Ghost In My Arms, the instrumental The Hawthorne Passage and ... And The Great Cold Death Of The Earth, in my opinion the best song on the album, where the band achieves an unbeatable fusion of folk, doom and death metal.

Excellent material and one of the best from the Experimental / Post Metal sub-genre

 Agalloch / Nest Split Single by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Agalloch / Nest Split Single
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars This is a split single that was released in 2004 and features music from two Neo-folk bands. The first track is exclusive to this split single, at least to this point. It is Agalloch "The Wolves of Timberline" and was made during their acoustic, neo-folk phase, thus it isn't the extreme black metal sound you may have heard from them, but more of a lovely and peaceful track led mostly by acoustic guitar. The music is quite melodious and pensive, as you would expect from the band during that time. The B-side is from the (usually) instrumental band "Nest" who usually play a soft, instrumental neo-folk with dark undertones. You do get that sound with this track, yet the surprise here is that Agalloch also appears on this version of the track "Last Vestige of Old Joy" helping with (oddly enough for Nest) gruff, yet soft vocals and guitar. This version and the "Nest Only" version are now available on Nest's compilation "Within a Decade", which was released in 2014,

Both tracks are beautifully dark, and are appealing enough for anyone that love the neo-folk sound, especially the acoustic or pensive style presented here. There were 1000 printed, so there may be a chance you could run into one somewhere out there, and, unless they want a high price for it, it is definitely worth picking up. However, it might not be well appreciated by the casual fan as it would be for a big fan. Nevertheless, both tracks are excellent.

 Faustian Echoes by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.98 | 38 ratings

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Faustian Echoes
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars The best EP by Agalloch by far. It is actually one long song filled with drama, epic proportions and deep darkness. Narration is used sparsely and does not distract from the music. Furious tempo starts right after the first narration and then the main chords are played repetitively, also the black metal growls step in. Time for post rock to step in at around 3:50, at first having heavy riffs replaced later by clean guitar. Approximately in the half of the song, a kind of outro is played to relax. However, soon the second main motive that is distinctively a raw black metal passage that is still played with different accompanying varation. Nice progressive drum patterns appear at around 13:00. The rest of the long track is still full of changes but not as remarkable as the first half of this epic track. The outro belongs to the narrative, not a surprise at all.

Kudos to Agalloch for taking on a challenging job and conjuring a dark medieval image of Faust. A highly recommended EP!

 Marrow Of The Spirit by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.96 | 208 ratings

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Marrow Of The Spirit
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars The peak of Agalloch creative force was released in 2010. This release has everything that an open-minded progressive black metal fan can ask for: Long music loundscapes, frosty atmosphere, mature songwriting make this piece one of the best progressive black metal albums ever. The albums marks departure from the more experimental Ashes to the grey and return to rawer approach. Who would have expected that it could ever come from America, if Scandinavia rules this game?

Apart form the normal soundscape, violin and sounds of nature are used to great effect, What reminds me of spring with streams of water bursting from melting snow, and using a melody motive that is reused in the last song changes with the start of the second track into a furious black metal tempo that is well characterized by the title "Painted into grey" that contains melodic post-rock riffs. "The watcher's monolith" contains a slight Opeth feeling in the slowlier parts. The second longest track ever by Agalloch bears the name of a fictive lake in Scandinavia. Black metal, doom metal and Mogwaisque keyboards are all featured here. "To drown" is one of the most darkest and emotional post-rock pieces ever, in my opinion. What starts as painting with colours and background guitar melody taken over by melancholic violin, slowly evolves into fantastic 4 chord guitar cresciendo which then turns into an evil violin/guitar melody - as if a march of omnipresent doom and bleakness was going on. This remarkable track ends the album on a very high note. The masterpiece of folk and progressive influenced black metal. Together with Enslaved and Borknagar, this is the reference music that will draw many listeners to a high quality metal music.

 Ashes Against The Grain by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.90 | 228 ratings

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Ashes Against The Grain
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Ashes Agains is a great and more accessible album than the previous two studio albums. Post-rock influences are quite recognizable on this CD.

"Limbs" is a trademark post-rock song, actually post-rock dominates here and black/doom metal influences are thrown in. The effectiveness of this song is highlighted by heavy slow parts. "Falling Snow" offers a mixture of clean and growling vocals. The track is somewhat monotonous and it wouldn't have damaged it if it was trimmed to 6 minutes instead of 9. Nice interlude follows and it allows the listener to take breath for further songs.

"Fire above, ice below" have both poles hearable in the song - the warm fire is represented by the warm clean vocal and acoustic guitars. The icy sphere are the whispering vocals. In this track, the fire seems to take ownership over ice. A pretty interesting experiment.

Extreme black metal vocals a la are displayed in the following track that is also alternating between fast black metal and slowlier riffs not far from post rock.

The greatest epic post-rock track penned by Agalloch is to be found in the last three tracks. The first two ones are pretty decent and exploring picturesque riffs, the third one turns into a messy soundscape and disturbs more than it attracts.

Overall, Ashes against the grain will find its supporters but isn't the most representative of Agalloch's works. There is enough for a progressive metal fan to explore, though.

 Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.31 | 41 ratings

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Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars Once you start listening to this EP, you realise why these songs could not make it to more conceptual albums.

The song quality is lower than usual standard for Agalloch; they are simpler. If the first song is still not bad, the other three tracks didn't raise my interest as they sound like background tracks to set atmosphere only. The clean voice in the fourth track sounds a bit like the Placebo vocal and is out of place here.

The last long track is, unfortunately, completely disposable and musically, it finished long before the official album end.

I recommend this EP only to collectors, instead, look at later EPs, especially at the highly regarded Faustian Echoes.

 Pale Folklore by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.75 | 162 ratings

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Pale Folklore
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars A unique debut not only for an American but also a band in general. Agalloch have painted way for a unique combination of music styles: black metal, doom metal, post-rock and folky influences. Indeed, we should not forget small progressive rock influence, too.

The voice is sometimes growling in a calm whispering way, sometimes growling hard and the clean vocal is also quite decent. The first long epic track features also female vocals that perfectly fit the dark atmosphere. The blowing wind brings the dark shade of winter. Things get fast in the second track and and in the end, a simple quinta chord is used to calm things down. The third track is a culmination of the the effort so far - instrumental parts are combined with evil singing and mourning guitar. These three track actually epitomize the typical Agalloch sound. You can choose if it something for you or not to continue listening. But... The next track is quite unusually acoustic and soft but remains atmospheric and windy.

"Hallways of enchanged ebony" is a great epic title and the music does not stay behind expectations. "Dead winter days" is a perfect post-rock driven mostly instrumental track. "As embers dress the sky" remembers me of Opeth in the beginning: clean vocals and similar riffs. Death metal vocals are also not a far cry from Opeth.

"The melancholy spirit" has a catchy melody, clear acoustic parts, slow doomy sections and even a piano outro.

The album is a highlight of progressive black metal, however I have to give it a 3 star only since it is not an excellent addition for a progger, but still very much recommended. In a metal review, I rated it with 4 stars.

 The Serpent & The Sphere by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.68 | 89 ratings

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The Serpent & The Sphere
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars AGALLOCH pretty much dominated the American metal scene for the first decade of the 2000's as they cranked out not only one or two but four outstanding classics that showcased their idiosyncratic visionary fusion of black and doom metal with dark neofolk, post rock and ritual ambient music. Add to that, several EPs distinct from their full-length canon and numerous tours that took them around the world. And not only did they deliver the goods on each of their albums, but they steadily ratcheted up new aspects of their sound which made them quite popular by the time their fourth album 'Marrow Of The Spirit' hit the world in 2010. It seemed the band would continue the trend forever. Not so fast.

Following the single tracked EP 'Faustian Echoes' which not only displayed AGALLOCH's longest track of their career but also their heaviest that utilized the fullest effects of black metal riffing only intermittently punctuated by dark folk interludes to provide a soft canvass for the poetic prose to be recited. Two years later the band would release their fifth and final album as fate would have it. THE SERPENT & THE SPHERE offered another slice of the dramatic melding of the folk and metal that fans had come to expect so well. The band continues the same lineup as 'Marrow' with Aesop Dekkecontinuing his drumming duties but this one contains a guest appearance of Nathana'l Larochetter who plays acoustic guitar.

THE SERPENT & THE SPHERE pretty much continues the AGALLOCH signature sound however for once in their career, this one seems to have lost all inspiration and as a result sound like an AGALLOCH by-the-numbers type of album. It contains nine tracks with two extending past the ten minute mark however where previously albums soared and took you on left turns after building up crescendoes of folk and metal glory, SERPENT seems to slither down a one way path. Once again the band builds long repetitive riffs that continue to grow in speed and volume utilizing the raspy shrieked vocal effect and distorted guitar atmospheric layering that offers the desired doom and gloom and all that. But something is seriously missing here.

Firstly, the riffs and melodies are rather flat. There is not one track on here that keeps my attention and not one that demands my returned listening. This happened upon first listen but in order to review this i've spun it numerous times and unlike the other four albums that made me want to listen to them over and over, this one makes wanna take it out and put in, you got it, one of the other four albums! This one seems to completely lack that magical mojo and spirit that made AGALLOCH albums so great. It seems the magic wasn't isn't the riffing, the post-rock build-ups, the black metal outbursts or any of the describable ingredients. It was in the epic compositional constructs that cleverly tied it all together.

It really seems AGALLOCH lost the passion and burned out and apparently that's exactly what happened since the band broke up two years later. There is nothing bad about this one per se but in all honesty, there is nothing great either and since it's AGALLOCH, well, ok doesn't cut the mustard. This is by far their worst album in my world. I'm glad they called it quits having realized the game is over and pumping out mediocrity for time immemorial would only tarnish their past glories. After the breakup, John Haughm would form a new band called Pillorian, Don Anderson, Jason William Walton and Aesop Dekker would begin Kh'rada. While it's never a glad day when a legendary band calls it quits, personally i'd much rather see a band do so than litter the market with bland lifeless locust shells of their past.

 Faustian Echoes by AGALLOCH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
3.98 | 38 ratings

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Faustian Echoes
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars AGALLOCH hit the metal scene in 1999 just in time for the turn of the millennium and soon became one of the 21st century's most revered bands as they found the perfect formula to meld their black metal sensibilities with dark neofolk a la Death In June with a post-rock compositional prowess in the vein of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The band bedazzled the world with masterpieces such as 'The Mantle' and 'Ashes Against The Grain' and even managed to keep their musical mojo flowing when they decided to up their metal creds on 2010's 'Marrow Of The Spirit' which deemphasized but didn't destroy the dark neofolk properties that made this Portland, Oregon band stand out amongst the contemporary crowded metal universe.

Sticking to their guns and releasing an EP (or two) between their full-length studio albums, AGALLOCH followed up their fourth album 'Marrow Of The Spirit' with yet another EP, this time taking inspiration form Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play 'Faust.' While this is a mere EP with a running time of only 21 and a half minutes, it is actually a single track titled FAUSTIAN ECHOES that borrows the lyrics directly from the English translation of the original German text. Lyrics exist in the form of the familiar emphatically shrieked black metal style to actual film samples from Jan Svankmajer's 1994 film adaptation. Originally only available as digital downloads, the vinyl and CDs were sold at live shows. The cover art displays the Salvador Dal' etching of 'Faust Lisant (Faust Reading).'

AGALLOCH have always had crossover appeal by implanting roughly equal doses of dark neofolk, post-rock and atmospheric black / doom metal but beginning with 2010's 'Marrow Of The Spirit,' the band got the itch to create a more ramped up version of their visionary style which adrenalized the tempos, distorted the guitar riffage and vocally shrieked like there was no tomorrow. The metal bug had hit the band big time no doubt due to the addition of ex-Ludicra Aesop Dekker joining the cast to bring some black metal life to the scene with extreme guitar riffing aplenty and more drum abuse graced by lengthy ever-changing workouts.

FAUSTIAN ECHOES is their 5th EP and continues the love affair with the heavier side of their music but much like the album that it follows keeps the folk and post-rock vibes bubbling beneath the surface. In fact, 'Marrow Of The Spirit,' despite ramping up the extreme metal effects still eschewed it for much of the album. FAUSTIAN ECHOES sounds like AGALLOCH were trying to correct that and in the process created the most extremely metal release of their career.

While dark neofolk hasn't been booted out of the overall compositional scene, it sure has been forced to take a backseat and merely supply brief intermissions and a backdrop for moments of spoken poetic prose that provide brief interludes of spoken word storytelling between the moments of extreme metal bombast.

Lyrically, a tribute to one of Germany's most celebrated and well-known writers whose 'Faust' play is perhaps one of the nation's most revered contributions to the literary world, musically FAUSTIAN ECHOES shows a band losing their grip on the grandeur of its tight and diverse four album run that launched AGALLOCH into the top dog realms of the folk metal universe. For the first time, this band of seemingly endless ambition sounds a bit stagnate. At least for this band.

True that a 21 minute track dedicated to one of the non-English world's closest competitor to Shakespeare is a bona fide tour de force to tackle, however the problem is that the music doesn't quite measure up to the expectations laid forth. While the EP isn't bad per se, it does echo a bit of been there done that and has a hard time delivering the expected (by now) multitude of diversity that AGALLOCH had mustered up quite successfully in its noughty heyday.

AGALLOCH's selling shtick has always been a carefully crafted and calculated mixing it up between their folk and metal elements that were all laid out in post-rock fashion, however on FAUSTIAN ECHOES, it seems they try to hard to stick to the metal aspects of their sound and practically suffocate the dark ambient neofolk that has always been a key element to their overall vibe. Vocal tradeoffs of clean and shrieked are shattered in favor of the latter and while black metal remains a favorite pastime of mine, AGALLOCH don't have the black metal chops to pull off a kvlter-than-thou purity party that they are attempting to achieve.

While FAUSTIAN ECHOES is by no means a throwaway release, it does seem to demonstrate that the band hat peaked and can no longer sustain its essence which seems to be rooted in the dark neofolk as evidenced on the brilliant 'The White EP.' Sorry guys, try as you may, you are a folk band which dons a metal cape but a bona fide metal band you are not. I've given this EP more than enough spins to let it grow on me and it always comes out the same. OK but not outstanding. The reign of AGALLOCH ended with 'Marrow Of The Spirit' and on FAUSTIAN ECHOES, the band seems to have found itself on a downward spiral that it would never recover from.

3.5 rounded down

 Marrow Of The Spirit by AGALLOCH album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.96 | 208 ratings

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Marrow Of The Spirit
Agalloch Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars AGALLOCH's first three albums had a lot of crossover appeal that allowed those who usually don't dabble in extreme metal to find something to latch onto via catchy folk laden melodies, post-rock compositional constructs and healthy doses of interesting electronic segments with an overall brilliant mix of all the elements simmering into a unique product. Add to that the diverse lyrical delivery that showcases John Haughm divvying his vocal dynamics into clean, shrieked and whispered enunciations that allowed a wider spectrum of emotional connection to be conveyed. On "Ashes Against The Grain," the band ratcheted up the metal aspects a bit to add more Isis inspired post-metal riffs to ride the waves of the atmospheric tides of the Godspeed You! Black Emperor inspired post-rock sensibilities. However the band still complained that despite all efforts, the album was still over-produced and not what they had hoped for.

Add to that the fact that "The White EP" which immediately precedes their fourth full-length album MARROW OF THE SPIRIT was almost entirely acoustic folk-based and it's no wonder that the band was wanting to up their metal creds a few notches which is exactly what they achieved (for the most part) on this installment of six tracks teased out into an hour and six minutes of full AGALLOCH glory. There were also many other changes afoot. Not only did they end their contract with The End Records and sign with Profound Lore due to personality clashes but ex-Ludicra drummer Aesoop Dekker was brought into the scene to replace Chris Greene. Having his history as a black metal drummer provided the necessary percussive backbone that allowed AGALLOCH to soar above and behind their folk metal roots and implement some extra rambunctious gusto throughout MARROW OF THE SPIRIT. However, make no mistake about it. Despite the fortified black metal aspects, this is an AGALLOCH album through and though and the metal is only one ingredient in a varied recipe.

As the opening track "And They Have Escaped The Weight Of Darkness" slowly creeps in with a sole cello (provided by Jackie Perez Gratz of Gracyeon) in the company of a babbling brook and chirping birds, it seems as if AGALLOCH had employed the talents of Yo- Yo Ma to do his best interpretation of the soundtrack to "Schindler's List," however after nearly four minutes of Pagan ritualistic remorse music, "Into The Painted Grey" blasts onto the scene with some of the most intense and bombastic black metal of AGALLOCH's entire career as it strikes with a blitzkrieg vengeance in the vain of Krallice or Weakling but soon enough reverts to the familiar past glories of melodic dual guitars painting an atmospheric folk inspired melody accompanied by tribal drumming. The track continues to parade through a variety of styles that fit the AGALLOCH brand name quite well, namely shrieked lyrics under the soaring post-rock textures which only happen to implement a higher octane of distortion and adrenalized tempo marches with the usual unexpected changes and cool production techniques.

All is good as the album begins with the usual high level AGALLOCH quality shining through but the band hits their first major hiccough with "The Water's Monolith." Nothing bad about the track per se but despite a really strong launching into a more aggressive musical scene, this track seems to have gotten cold feet and sounds more like an unreleased leftover from "The Mantle" as it engages a familiar acoustic folk guitar strumming with atmospheric guitar sweeps to augment the emotional depth. Likewise it engages in the same call and response of clean and shrieked vocals with the latter finding the heavy distorted grooves and familiar melodic developments. The distorted guitars attempt to disguise this malapropos piece that evokes a statue of a stag in a city park more than a darkened bleak landscape depicted on a brilliant relief surface of the album cover. A musical faux pas? Not for mere mortals, but for AGALLOCH, a major no no in their impeccable streak of perfectly designed albums.

The album regains its character with one of my favorite tracks of the band's career. "Black Lake Nidstang' is a whopping seventeen and a half minute composition of utter brilliance. It begins with a dramatic timpani and atmospheric ratcheting up effect that evokes a true Pagan ritual is about to take place, much like "The White EP," but with more emphasis on the metal distortion. Add to that the Pink Floyd type echo guitars as heard on "The Wall" and brilliant transitions between segments and all is forgiven for the third track's seemingly out of place role. This track goes through many transitions but the most bizarre comes around the eight minute mark where the track turns into a scary and depressive black / doom metal dirge where Haughm's vocals seem on the verge of breakdown as the doom metal tempos evoke some of the most gut-wrenching performances of his career. The track cedes into a claustrophobic yet hypnotic trance inducing electronica sequence that allows a creepy Moog to allow a vibraphone and glockenspiel to ratchet up the next chapter which emerges as an echoed guitar sequence that evolves into a black metal finale, well more like a sludge metal finale with blackened overtones. Sludge riffs, sludge percussion, black metal shrieks. Outstanding track!

"Ghosts Of The Midwinter Fires" continues with more of the echoey Pink Floyd inspired guitars but adds some metal guitar grunge accompaniment and the expected atmospheric mastery. As a near ten minute track, the first third is a build of to the second third where it ratchets up the black metal fury which despite a similar sound that started the album had been neglected for the most part up to this point. While employing the sickest guitar antics providing the necessary atmospheric compositional flare, the entire track retains a soaring melodic majesty that is augmented by an ambient backdrop. The closing ten and a half minute "To Drown" takes MARROW OF THE SPIRIT full circle and reverts back to the Pagan folk ritualistic aspects with a cello reprise, sound samples of nature and also includes unique tones and timbres from petrified bones and glass and metal sheet percussion that create a majestic dark ambient finale replete with whispered poetry, soaring atmospheric guitar and a bleak depressive epic and atmospheric overall feel. While the piano parts are abundant on MARROW OF THE SPIRIT, they significantly contribute to this last track that for the most part sounds like a classical piece that happens to employ some noise, metal and dark ritualistic elements.

AGALLOCH successfully added new layers of complexity to each of their albums. By the time you get to the end of MARROW OF THE SPIRIT you are wondering if you have stumbled into a Holst's "The Planets" recital that has taken on a Wagner-ian bombast as it slowly staggers out. While not as perfectly implemented as "The Mantle" or "Ashes Against The Grain," MARROW OF THE SPIRIT is an amazingly brilliant slice of genre bending fusion that keeps AGALLOCH at the top of their game. While the black metal aspects have been turned up a few notches and might scare aware the crossover crowd only swayed by the abundant folk, this album is more non-metal than metal. The atmospheric prowess is the dominant force that just happens to implement more bombastic metal to add even more dynamic forms of contrast. The album was produced by Steven Wray Lobdell who found the perfect balance between the myriad elements that could easily derail into a cacophonous mess but each strand of sound stands proud as it takes its turn in the great folk/rock symphony that constitutes MARROW OF THE SPIRIT. Did AGALLOCH gain their metal creds? Well, sort of. AGALLOCH was never a pure metal band. This Portland, Oregon bunch is much, much more and on this one they take their game to a staggering new level. Only the third track stands out as lackluster.

4.5 but rounded down

Thanks to Littlewashu5 for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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