Agalloch is a very unique and original group form Portland Oregon.
It is interesting because many of their lyrics (which are very, very good) are about nature and Portland is known for rain if I'm not mistaken. Agalloch is very hard to categorize. They span from post-rock to black metal to folk to doom. The band I am most reminded of is Opeth. There are many interesting acoustic passages that launch into aggressive metal riffs and clean and harsh vocals. Agalloch has a more interesting sound though and this is coming form a person who took the time to download the entire Opeth catalogue. They have more atmosphere and better lyrics. There is less of the repetition found in Opeth that can make those songs boring. Prepare for a dick sucking review because Agalloch is today's unsung hero of music.
A Celebration For The Death Of Man...
begins the album with a thundering bass drum. Not a kick drum, a classical bass drum. Always a good way to begin. An acoustic guitar plays an interesting chord progression with some nice extras. The bass drum comes back from time to time and strings (synths I believe) join. As an instrumental, it is kept short and doesn't really do too much. Another guitar joins and the bass drum picks up but aside from sounding very nice and melancholy is fairly simple. An excellent song and sets an atmosphere for the rest of the album. The same bass drum that began the album begins In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion
. A simple guitar pattern is played until joined by drums bass and acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar is what really makes the song. The drum is also very good. When distortion comes, the acoustic guitar stays to play on top. The first vocals heard are the black metal Gollum type. Very fitting especially because they are mixed so that they aren't on top of the music and have lots of reverb. Then you hear the clean vocals. A low sort of monotone drone that trades on and off with the Gollum vocals. The way they Gollum vocals sound over an acoustic guitar is surprisingly good. They fit somehow. The lyrics are really powerful here. They speak about God and how he is nature and if the land they are seeing is alive, so is god. Dark, but good. Not the common blood and gore but much heavier, in my opinion. There is a sort of guitar solo that isn't technical or fast but sounds right. Lots of reverb and sustained notes. A march pattern on the snare changes the feel of the song. I won't be able to go into this much detail for each song because the album clocks in somewhere around 70 minutes and each song has so much in it. I will have to just say that this song takes many twists and turns from here because I stopped describing it less that halfway through. It is an amazing song.
shows how this album is not meant to be listened to one track at a time but as a whole. These first three songs actually flow into each other by way of sounds that don't silence themselves between tracks. Every song on the album doesn't do that but you can still hear how the songs fit. This song is truly beautiful. This band is able to make an instrumental that is longer than any other song and equally as interesting but unlike some bands, they don't add or take away from the music when they add or subtract vocals. It is all very well written. They are also not afraid to use noise instead of music. Wind sounds begin and end this song.
There is a very clear change of mood from Odal to I am the Wooden Doors
. This song begins with double bass blasting away and a riff that I cannot decide is heavy or not. It seems like something that could easily have brutal vocals over it, but does not. It's interesting. This song goes from being the heaviest on the album into a very interesting acoustic passage. It is also probably the easiest to classify by using progressive black folk metal. Not a very definitive genre.
begins a very interesting way with what sounds like claves with lots of reverb and the sound of footsteps in snow. Then the acoustic guitar comes in. This song is very emotional and has a sort of hopeful feel. There is a cello that adds to the emotion. Very well done song. The song ends with the clave sound. You Were but a Ghost in My Arms
is a very melodic sound and fairly accessible. There are chimes in the acoustic section that are just perfect. Worst part of this song you think is the fade-out but the fade-out continues into the next song, The Hawthorne Passage
which layers over it reversing the badness of a fade-out into a well used tool. This is the longest instrumental and has some nice bluesy guitar work. It is very mellow and smooth for the most part. There are more wind sounds but this time in the middle of the song. This one is closer to two separate songs smashed into one but then again, many of the other songs seem like parts of their preceding or following song. This is a very Godspeed sounding song. There is a sample of voices in here too and it ends with more but this time in Spanish I think.
...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth
is a beautiful song. Perfectly arranged and written. This is the stuff that makes fanboys. It also takes us back to the folky acoustic guitars earlier in the album. It helps connect the album and does a great job. The cello is back too as is that big bass drum and the chimes. This is the song to get if you want to know what this album has to offer. What am I saying? Get the whole thing.
A Desolation Song
is very folky and melancholy. It sounds almost like an Irish folk tune but with whispered vocals over it. Very emotional and well done. This song never gets heavy and distorted like the others which is good because it is just so pretty and no matter how much I like distortion it would make this song not quite as good. Did I mention the album ends with the clave?
This album is perfect. I find no flaws. Every song is written and performed perfectly. Nothing lags or gets boring. It is perfectly connected to itself and carries a mood. Buy it now.
Recommended to fans of -
Godspeed You! Black Emperor