I really wanted to like this album. At first, I listened to the three opening tracks, and wow! was I impressed. Seamless integration of styles, great songwriting, incredible atmosphere.
Then I bought the album. And so excited was I; but by the time I got to the end of track nine (a very good song), I realized I had just listened to the first three tracks over and over again. Acoustic guitars abound, but they could all be copied and pasted from the first track for all I know. Are those the exact same four chords I hear the entire album? Possibly.
"Heavy tracks" like I Am The Wooden Doors suffer from repetition and terrible production, as well as cliched riffs and so-so integration of melodies within the walls of guitar static-whoops-I mean, guitar distortion.
The "diverse instrumentation" seems interesting at first, but these instruments are generally incorporated in such a way that anyone who simply has access to them could replicate it quite easily.
Strange sections such as when the singer begins talking over the music pretend to be intriguing, but just sound like a psuedo-Puissance ripoff. Not unique, nor is it executed well.
The enigmatic atmosphere is all this album really has going for it, but even that gets tiring after the hour-plus duration. None of the songs truly reach any kind of epic proportions, instead only hinting at them (see: "You Were But A Ghost in My Arms"). This band really doesn't bring anything new to the table; This type of songwriting is NOT innovative by default, but that's how it's often treated by fans.
Haha! I like it, a heated and emotional response to my blurb; excellent. I knew it was going to happen.
Anyway, I stand by everything I said, so I don't feel the need to write out a full refutation, but there are a few things I'd like to clarify in regards to what you posted.
First of all, what I meant when I said that "anyone who simply has access to [the diverse instruments] could replicate it quite easily" was that anyone who had access to those instruments could do what the band does, not copy what the band does. In other words, what the band does with that instrumentation is not worthy of any kind of praise, aside from the fact that they had the money to have those instruments there. Plus, the fact that those instruments are not a driving force is even worse, because then what is left are droning guitar passages and borderline awful vocals.
Second, on the subject of motifs: there are a lot stronger ways to implement motifs than strumming the same damn chords over and over again. Look towards bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor and Dredg for this. Obviously, for someone who analyzes the album, you can find that element, but for someone who is just listening to enjoy, it comes across as a lazy way to add consistent themes.
Regardless of that, however, even the acoustic/electric passages that aren't the exact same don't vary much from it. Their style is droning, and not in an effective way.
My last point: Since when should rating music be objective? Even more, how COULD it be? Okay, I could be objective and analyze the theory behind it, but what else is there? Why rate music objectively when its entire nature is based upon subjectivity? I rate Porcupine Tree's In Absentia a five, because, for me, it epitomizes everything I love about rock music, and that's pretty worthy of a perfect rating.
ive heard a lot of good about Agalloch, ive got Pale Folklore, and i think im starting to side with this side of the fence.
ive downloaded a few songs, and truthfully, the acoustic passages are kind of boring and uninteresting (Sunn O))) is more involved and exciting, id say) and the heavy sections sound like they have potential, cliched as they may sound, but the production takes any power they had and threw it out the window.
however, ive heard that the new album is supposedly better... so i guess ill check that before writing off Agalloch as one of the most over-hyped bands that ive encountered.
Nice work on going against the grain, but for something like this, your review is a little on the short side. Still, I can understand how you came to your conclusions, and you do have good reasons as to why you don't like the album. Voted.
It does, for me I started this album around 3.5, now its a 4.5 on the very border of a 5. This album is so freaking awesome, I don't have words to discribe it. When I have a tough day, this album is what I pop in.