Agalloch aren’t exactly the most productive outfit in the world, but a new release by them is always something to look forward to. Their somewhat raw, yet sophisticated combination of black metal, folk, progressive rock/metal and post rock tendencies have resulted into rough gems, such as The Mantle (2002) and Ashes Against The Grain (2006). This year the band finally released their latest effort, entitled Marrow Of The Spirit.
This album starts with the sounds of a flowing stream, which puts you in the right headspace to consume the rest of Marrow Of The Spirit. Once again the band show their preference for long and unorthodox compositions, since most of them are way beyond the ten minute mark. That’s just fine with me, because Agalloch are masters when it comes to keeping long tracks interesting – and that without the use of technical instrumental masturbation. Remember, this band is all about creating and shifting certain atmospheres.
The first real composition is Into Painted Grey, which is also the longest track of the album. It’s an adventurous journey through piercing black metal inspired pieces, folky acoustic guitar parts and long soundscapes. It sets the pace for the rest of Marrow Of The Spirit. Black Lake Nidstång is somewhat doom metal oriented, while Ghost Of The Midwinter Fires thrives on its folk influences. The Watcher’s Monolith is more in sync with Into Painted Grey.
I’m not the biggest fan of raw underground productions, but I’m willing to make an exception for Marrow Of The Spirit. Of course it takes the power away from the drums and it makes the album sound muddy at times, but for some reason it does justice to the theme and the atmosphere of this album.
Marrow Of The Spirit by Agalloch is another splendid rendition of the band’s signature sound. The album doesn’t really cover new ground, but that’s compensated by the sheer adventurous and atmospheric scope of its individual compositions. Certainly one of the best records of this year.
written by Raymond Westland