Review Summary: Because trees don't gots no good metals to listens to.
"Bands that sound like Agalloch" is kinda like the new "bands that sound like Tool" message board posting, and luckily nobody is going to name Chevelle in response.
The comparison isn't unfair. The cover of Gallowbraid's "Ashen Eidolon" is enough to make the case that this is a nature metal release--or a Justin Vernon side project. But so what" Agalloch is a pretty phenomenal band.
The only question remaining then is what Gallowbraid is going to become. Ashen Eidolon is the work of one Jake Rogers, who is clearly invested in the folk metal aesthetic, so much so that he felt the need to rename "Oak Halls of Sorrow" to "Oak & Aspen" for a more naturalistic feel--or to differentiate between "Hallways of Enchanted Ebony""--between various releases of this bedroom gem.
It happens. Early Pink Floyd live staples that eventually became "Dogs" appeared with names like "You Gotta Be Crazy." The sentiment is formed, but the fine-tuning can lead to a slightly different tone over time. This is Gallowbraid's first release of any sort, and he's just one guy, so a certain amount of second-guessing is surely understandable.
But Rogers need not be self-conscious about Ashen Eidolon, for it be a fine folk metal addition, akin to, well, Agalloch, or In the Woods... "Heart of the Ages." The clean vocals especially remind of In the Woods..., with the near-baritone Rogers bellowing "my journey through these wild landscapes is all that I have left."
Vocals aside, however, Gallowbraid is an artist with a keen ear for melody. Both the title track and "Oak & Aspen" are infused with subtle guitar riffs underneath the fuzzy rhythm section, hooking us in without doing so quite as overtly as the hugest Agalloch solos.
"Autumn I & II" provide cutesy Anglican folk interludes that create some breathing room as well, much like "Pigs on the Wing 1 & 2" did for the aforementioned Floyd.
With a little more time to soak in the peaty backwoods Agalloch bog that Rogers apparently worships, I would fully expect that a follow-up release will carve out a separate and distinct niche for this talented solo musician.