Agalloch
Marrow of the Spirit


4.0
excellent

Review

by Angel STAFF
November 17th, 2010 | 52 replies | 8,515 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Agalloch is one of those bands that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Their fans seem to make real and lasting connections with their music, even if they can’t see eye-to-eye on which style is most engrossing. This really is the mark of an exceptional band, the fact that something astounding can be found in each of their unique albums depending on who’s hearing it. In 2010, they give us a record that, hopefully, everyone can find something in which to enjoy.

Marrow of the Spirit will certainly make it easy for fans to make comparisons to their past body of work. Which previous release, however, this album can most be likened to is most likely going to depend on the listener. Pale Folklore’s folk infused black metal riffing and solos make a return to comprise a lofty portion of the album. These components maintain what is almost a refinement from their debut in that they’re layered with both restraint and intent. Melancholic atmospheric tendencies and some more subdued moments of the album are reminiscent of The Mantle. The post-rock sensibilities of Ashes Against the Grain remain quite in tact as the group show that they still have a profound sense of flow and dynamics when crafting a cohesive body of music. The ebb and flow of aggressive and mellow passages work to create inner climaxes within the songs themselves while not overlooking the bigger picture.

While Marrow reaches extensively into the group’s past, to say that Agalloch fail to tread any new ground with this release is a great oversight. The song structures are some of their most ambitious and progressive to date, and the notion of a “chorus” has been done away with altogether. The seventeen-minute “Black Lake Nidstang” manages to be epic in both scope and execution, winding through stark stylistic changes with relative ease. Guitar riffs, in a sense, evolve in lieu of repeating, transitioning with suitable chord and melody progressions. Another unfamiliar (and in certain instances detracting) aspect here is the somewhat unorthodox production style, leaving certain parts with the percussion too much in the forefront and the bass bordering on obscurity. However, the artistic audacity of the album more often than not reaps rewards, even if they require due time to notice or comprehend.

It seems noteworthy that Marrow of the Spirit features the most guest work of any of Agalloch’s previous releases. Cellist Jackie Perez Gratz lends her skills on intro “They Escaped the Weight of Darkness” and the closing “To Drown.” The moog work that comprises the electronic section of “Black Lake Nidstang” is courtesy of Witch Mountain’s drummer, Nathan Carson. This welcomed and even fitting addition to the song seems to be a nod to the later work of one of the band’s more obvious influences: Ulver. “The Watcher’s Monolith” contains a piano outro from multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Neblock, most known for his project Vindensang. This borrowed talent mostly plays out like an extension of Agalloch itself, seemingly executing elements and influences the core members could not do in past albums.

The atmosphere and emotion conveyed on Marrow is wholly bleak and sorrowful, though, in a darker way than The Mantle and free of the contempt of Ashes. Vocally, John traverses more ground than he has before, utilizing a more vast array of clean and harsh vocal styles to achieve these things. There is a gripping conviction in his voice in powerful moments on the album like “Into the Painted Grey” and early on in “Black Lake Nidstang.” Musically as well, Marrow of the Spirit manages to be an embodiment of despondency with songs like “To Drown,” which drones hauntingly like an amalgam of The Mantle and Sunn O))). The sadness that the group brings with its music has always been one of self-realization and introspection, and that’s really no different here.

Agalloch’s fourth full-length may not be what some expected, or perhaps wanted, but this direction, aside from the need to polish a few odds and ends, boasts solid footing in its ideas, both old and new. Marrow of the Spirit is a complex and ambitious adventure that takes its fair share of time and careful dissection to properly appreciate. More, likely, than some are willing to spend, but many will be rewarded by coming back to the record, discovering the subtleties littered throughout. A full fifteen years after its conception, the Pacific Northwest metal outfit remains steadfast in its commitment to deliver a unique brand of music. Hopefully, they will continue to do so for another fifteen years. Only time will tell.



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user ratings (918)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • johnny of the Well (3.5)
    Agalloch reinvent their sound again to create an album that takes a while to sink in...

    DeadBeat (3.5)
    "An album filled with change and progression. At the same time being disturbing and beauti...

    Thronewolf (4)
    Cold, bleak, and moody. On the surface some may find it too long-winded and pretentious wi...

    psite45 (4)
    Retaining some of the bands heaviest moments to date while still holding true to the vast ...

  • Kyle Ward STAFF (2.5)
    Marrow Of The Spirit seems like a failed retreat for Agalloch; an introverted back-trackin...


Comments:Add a Comment 
AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, here's my rebuttal to my good buddy Crysis' review. Glad to finally have it done and up. Took a lot of effort. Hope it shows.

JWT155
November 17th 2010



9205 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Just got this now and about to listen.

beefshoes
November 17th 2010



2937 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Summary sums it up nicely.
Love this album.

Digging: Ulver - Messe I.X-VI.X

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Which previous release, however, this album can most be likened to is most likely going to depend on the listener.


I agree with this. Everyone compares it to Pale Folklore but I simply don't see much resemblance. The review is very nice, definitely worth a pos, but I respectfully disagree for reasons everyone already knows haha ;)

Their fans seem to make real and lasting connections with music

Do you mean "their fans seem to make real and lasting connections with their music"?

Digging: Ulver - Bergtatt

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, thanks Crysis. Good find.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Found another

in a darker way than The Mantle and free

and
Musically as well, Marrow of the Spirit manages to be an embodiment

Forgot italics.

Hawks
November 17th 2010



34628 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Angel. Even though Crysis' review was also very well written, I actually agree with this one haha.

Digging: Equilibrium - Erdentempel

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks again dude. Knew I'd miss some italics somewhere.

Sweet. Glad you liked it Hawks. Thanks.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I also agree with you about the bass being lost somewhere in the production, and it really irks me because they've had some sweet bass lines on previous songs.

Terrifyer
November 17th 2010



3403 Comments


something gay, somethign boring, something idk, diddly diddly doo

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

:'(

Terrifyer
November 17th 2010



3403 Comments


your review was enthralling unlike the album

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lol. Thanks man.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



18066 Comments


Very nice review man, i still haven't made my final decision on the album yet. I really like it so far, but i think it is the lowest quality thing they have put out.

Perhaps it will be a grower, i was convinced for the longest time that AATG was their best until Pale Folklore just rammed its gigantic head in my face.

Digging: Huerco S - Colonial Patterns

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16264 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off


something gay, somethign boring, something idk, diddly diddly doo


lol'd

TheSpirit
November 17th 2010



17193 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

good review, but i agree with crysis more on this one...

Digging: vhmnt / blsphm - vhmnt / blsphm

Ire
November 17th 2010



41749 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

something gay, somethign boring, something idk, diddly diddly doo


hahahaha

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2010



16134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's cool. Opinions of this album are pretty all over the board. Thanks for the love though guys.

Apollo
November 17th 2010



10266 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

awesome review man, album falls a bit short of your rating atm but in time it may grow on me

R6Rider
November 17th 2010



4493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not going to say much cause I still haven't heard this, but I doubt this is THAT much worse than their previous releases.

Digging: Rort - Warpath



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