Agalloch
Pale Folklore


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (102 Reviews)
February 11th, 2015 | 67 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Aided by a poetic vision of fall and winter, Pale Folklore successfully laid down the groundwork for what is surely to come with its engaging vocals and surprising variety of guitar tones.

Right from the start, Agalloch successfully managed to avoid being pegged under just one genre. Over the course of their career, they've displayed the essences of progressive metal, doom metal, post rock, folk and black metal. Surprisingly, not even one of these genres could be considered their main style. The way to describe them to anyone new to the band would be a very heavy form of folk music which singles out Agalloch as one of the most unique bands of our generation. With their debut album, their style proves to be no exception because it draws from numerous influences and the most prominent one would be the extremely raw sound of black metal. While it may not be true black metal, the production and John’s vocals are undeniably reminiscent of the genre. Ranging from John’s eerie whispers and shrieks as well as the emotional guitar tones, Pale Folklore serves as a beast of its own and it represents the peak of fall season and the beginning of winter truly well with its overall depressing mood.

“She Painted Fire Across the Skyline” happens to be the album’s lengthy epic and what an unbelievable impression this track leaves. It assures the listener that most of the experience is going to be filled with the melancholy and despair of the dying leaves at the height of fall season as the mesmerizing, punchy guitar work immediately sucks anyone into its vortex. Once the track takes off, it never lets up in terms of the enjoyment department. Despite the unnecessarily cheesy opera style vocals in part one, it thoroughly delivers with charismatic guitar riffs and John’s trademark sinister whispers. Ripe with fantastic musicianship and exceptional drumming, these positives carry over into part two and three as many different types of guitar tones come in. The band really knew how to give this instrument a meaningful sense of character throughout this epic and once the callback to the opening guitar riffs closes out the song, the listener simply won't want to turn the album off.

Even as this behemoth of a track comes to its inevitable end, the album still never manages to lose its luster. Companion epic and album closer “The Melancholy Spirit” brings the album to a close quite nicely with some more of the staggeringly talented musicianship displayed in “She Painted Fire Across the Skyline.” The wavy tempo changes prove to be impressive and the band’s folky leanings shine through here nicely with the beautiful acoustic work being balanced perfectly with the listener being bombarded with emotion. “Dead Winter Days” also features compelling guitar riffs while at the same time being quite catchy and memorable. As evidenced here, the album transitions from fall to winter here with all of the leaves from the trees truly dead.

To further enhance the gloomy vibe the band tried to convey, they injected plentiful slower moments to emotionally take things down a few notches. Thanks to the many somber guitar tones and literally all of “The Misshapen Steed,” they accomplish this with grace and finesse. Whereas this slower guitar parts are strategically placed in moments like part two of “She Painted Fire Across the Skyline” and the wistful end of “Hallways of Enchanted Ebony,” the entirety of “The Misshapen Steed” is devoted to making the album everything but happy. This track happens to be more ambient than anything else with a wonderful xylophone melody laying down the thick terrain. Coupled with emotional strings and subtle keyboards, this profound song truly could have been something straight out of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess due to its massive scope and vibe of lonesome despair.

All in all, Pale Forklore exists as a debut that truly soars. The album really captures the mood of sorrow and melancholy quite well due to the sheer thoughts of fall and the beginning of winter in mind. Sure, it can be a bit cheesy at times due to occasional opera like vocals and the drums or bass not being loud enough in the mix. However, the band’s poetic vision, guitar work, and chilling vocals is where the enjoyment of Pale Folklore truly lays. This record marks the band’s first notable release and a brilliant one at that, but it’s safe to say any significant fan of Agalloch knows how much they improve with the next chapter on their discography. This successfully laid down the blueprints for the masterpiece that will surely come and leave its mark.



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user ratings (1084)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jorn van Schaïk (4.5)
Dead winter days: the new soundtrack....

Arrakakaka (5)
...

Neoteric (4.5)
A brilliant folk/black/doom/progressive metal album which keeps the listener interested....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


13123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yay here it is. Hope you guys enjoy it!



Also if you guys could give me some other words besides guitar "work" or "riffs" that would be much appreciated and I could put them in.

TalonsOfFire
February 11th 2015


11645 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That was fast haha, great review Mongi

Digging: Modest Mouse - Strangers to Ourselves

Veldin
February 11th 2015


2148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I enjoy the review, sir or madam. My second favorite Agalloch. THE MISSHAPEN STEED

BMDrummer
February 11th 2015


11153 Comments


yay a replacement for neoteric's review

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


13123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks people. I honestly think that The Misshapen Steed is my favorite on here. Jeez it's so evocative.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


20346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Despite the unnecessarily cheesy opera style vocals in part one"



how dare you..... seriously though, nice write up, i think this is one of your better reviews overall. May post a few corrections in a bit if you'd like

Digging: Galar - De Gjenlevende

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


13123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank god those aren't only there for a couple moments haha cause they're so jarring xD and feel free dude!

Artuma
February 11th 2015


17937 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice rev bro

Digging: The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up - It's Winter Here

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


20346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

mongs those opera-like vocals are seriously awesome, so let's just agree to disagree there ;) i'm pretty stoked that you reviewed this though man

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


20346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

here's a few minor suggestions:



Coupled with emotional strings and subtle keyboards, this profound song truly could have been something straight out of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess due to its massive scope and vibe of lonesome.




i really like what you're going for with this sentence, but the 'vibe of lonesome' part reads awkwardly to end the sentence. If you say something like 'vibe of lonesome despair' i think it would read better ;)



This successfully lead down the blueprints




not positive but should it be laid instead of lead? (last sentence)



The wavy tempo changes prove to be impressive and the band’s folky leanings shine through here nicely with the beautiful acoustic work being balanced perfectly with the numerous types of guitar tones




as you mentioned, you use the term 'guitar tones' a lot. since these guitar tones are meant to create emotion, you could word it something like this: 'with the beautiful acoustic work being balanced perfectly with the onslaught of emotion. obviously not necessarily in those exact words, but i think that's a different way to describe it without saying guitar tones or riffs. All these suggestions are just minor things i think could make a great review even better. Cheers!



Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


13123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ok everything is corrected dude. Wow that lead part was a stupid typo and I did it twice lol

Gameofmetal
February 11th 2015


5160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"laid down to groundwork"



typo in your summary, "the groundwork"



"which makes Agalloch stand high above any other band."



That's a bold statement when you say "above ANY other band". Couldn't you just compare it to artists in the genres they encompass or something?



"Seriously, they both have absolutely no punch or character!"



Idk this just didn't go with the professional vibe of the rest of the review to me. I'd suggest taking it out personally, and it isn't really necessary in the first place.



Great review otherwise!

Digging: Ghost Bath - Moonlover

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


13123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea really wasn't think when I said that second thing haha so changed that. That third one felt necessary when I wrote it but you're right so I took it out thanks!

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


20346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"Seriously, they both have absolutely no punch or character!"



i personally liked that part haha.



Tunaboy45
February 11th 2015


5883 Comments


Great review Mongi!

Digging: Bjork - Vulnicura

ScuroFantasma
February 11th 2015


2868 Comments


Great review Mongi, sounds like I might enjoy this

Digging: System of a Down - Toxicity

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2015


13123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys, you ever listen to these guys Scuro? If not you gotta try The Mantle it's a masterpiece. This is awesome too of course.

ScuroFantasma
February 11th 2015


2868 Comments


Nah I haven't heard anything from them yet, but it seems right up my alley. The Mantle eh? I'll have to give it a go at some point.

zaruyache
February 11th 2015


8077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

WHAT?

zaruyache
February 11th 2015


8077 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is essential listening man, get on that right now.



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