Review Summary: "An album filled with change and progression. At the same time being disturbing and beautiful, spiritual and soulless"
Agalloch is a band that has believed in making genuine atmospheric music since the time they woke up to it in 1995. Their albums have been a favor to Humanity’s deep thoughts and the band has produced all of that in the form of pristine melody and folk elements. The band has always taken their time when putting out albums, going three to four years between releases, and the results are undeniably worth the wait. They are polished, atmospheric works that are best listened to in their entirety, and this is not any different.
The blast beating begins immediately in Into The Painted Grey after some lovely violin and cello introduces the album in They Escaped The Weight Of Darkness. This second song of the record is some of Agalloch’s heaviest material to date. The heaviness breaks to allow an ominous guitar to pluck out a melody, which is soon joined by another guitar and then an acoustic, then building drums, before it all stops and sludgy distorted guitars prelude the same heavy sound from the beginning. But distanced from traditional Black Metal, Agalloch load the song with some melodic seasoning, host the subtle gutturals of John Haughm, and have a contingence of shoegazey guitar making its presence known every so often.
The Watcher’s Monolith is track number three. It touches twelve minutes and isn’t as good as its predecessor, in fact this is just an average song. The acoustic intro feels inspired, but the song as a whole doesn’t, and it shouldn’t have clean vocals mainly because they don’t fit this song well. However, the best is yet to come.
The epic Black Lake Nidstång serves as the album’s climax, as it is an incredible 17-minute journey, filled with haunting ambiance and contemplative instrumentals. Haughm’s anguished cries at 7:23, while the mournful guitar melodies perfectly convey sorrow and melancholy, is probably one of Agalloch’s best moments. After some beautiful synthesizer, the song dives into a great ending as a “little” drum work takes the song out with a bang. This mammoth-track is as impressive as it is ambitious.
The fifth song is perhaps the most accessible on the entire album. Ghosts Of The Midwinter Fires has a catchy intro and is musically the richest nine and a half minutes on Marrow Of The Spirit. Also, Folk cannot be hidden in their music and layers of the same have been applied all over this track, which hepls to create a memorable atmosphere.
The record closes with another sorrowful song that is defined by brooding violin and cold ambiance, but doesn’t reach the quality of the last two tracks. Actually, I wouldn’t have minded if To Drown hadn’t been included, it doesn’t really add anything to the album and ends up being it’s major flaw.
Overall, this is not Agalloch’s best, but it is their heaviest and most brooding album to date, a journey through the dark forests of the Northern Hemisphere to the cold unknown places where man has never set foot. A long record containing complex musical and lyrical imagery of a spiritual realm of despair, that ends up being an incredibly solid addition to the band’s discography.
- Into The Painted Grey
- Black Lake Nidstång
- Ghosts Of The Midwinter Fires