To begin with, it should be noted that although Of Stone, Wind And Pillor
was released in 2001, two years after the release of their debut album, Pale Folklore
, it was actually written before that. Listening to the EP, it's pretty obvious it was written at around that time, as a lot of it could have easily gone onto their first album. However, Agalloch waited two years before they got around to releasing this beauty on the 28th of May, 2001.
The first three of the five songs on the EP are new versions of songs seen on their two prior demo releases. I haven't heard how they orignally sounded, but they've certainly done a good job with them. The albums opener, and title track, was my gateway to Folk Metal and I've been hooked since. The acoustically strummed intro is quickly leads to a dark, ambient sounding atmosphere, which compliments the more agressive aspect of the band beautifully. The vocals are great, not because they are technically brilliant, but because they are blend so well with the rest of the music.
and Haunting Birds
are both instrumental tracks, and I find it difficult not to think of them as one individual song. The transition between the two is very smooth, making it seem like one song with two parts. Foliorum Viridium
consists only of layered keyboards, a piano, and possibly some very distant operatic vocals. It's a very soothing song, making use of long drawn out notes. Haunting Birds
then enters with some cleanly picked acoustic guitar. A second guitar then enters, and the two progress through the song, adding various ideas as it goes along, whilst being accompanied by a powerful sounding bass drum. The whole song sounds very much like something that could be heard on Ulver's Kveldssanger
The fourth track, Kneel To The Cross
, is a cover originally done by a group called Sol Invictus. It opens by chanting "Summer is a coming, arise, arise" whilst keyboards rise in the backgroud. This goes on for a good minute and a half, before quickly fading out and the band enters. There's a deep, slowly strummed distorted riff, highlighted by an acoustic guitar playing in the background. Vocals are clean and very well sung, if not a little repetative though. There's some nice harmonies happening as well. Again, Agalloch have created a great atmosphere. The church bell in the background towards the mid point of the song is nice touch. Although I haven't heard the original version of this song, I'm prepared to go out on a limb and say that it's a great cover.
A Poem By Yeats
is the albums final track, and is pretty ambient sounding. It's soft, driven by keyboards and a combination of sung and spoken vocals, with a little piano thrown into the mix. The songs title describes exactly what the lyrics are, ie; A Poem By Yates
. The poem is called The Sorrow of Love
and was written by William Butler Yeats. It's a great closing song, but the final four minutes of silence is pretty unecessary, as there is only some weird radio transmission kind of noise at the end.
- The EP generates an awesome atmosphere
- Very accessible, particularly to those just getting into Folk Metal
- Lack of new/original material, but that's being pretty picky.
Overall, the EP is great. The dark, gloomy atmosphere Agalloch have managed to create here is pretty impressive, and there isn't really any faults with this release that I can see. I recommend it to any fan of Agalloch's other work, or Folk Metal in general.
: The End Records
: May 28th, 2001
: Don Anderson
: John Haughm
: Jason Walton
: Shane Breyer