Agalloch United States

A62 Prog-Adj38
[Very Good Songwriting3, Really Good Musicianship3 and Sub-Par Production3]
added by Mike
Links:PA
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Review by PowerWyrm published
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C Prog Black

I sense that a lot of people will love this album and a lot will hate it. So is it a good or a bad album? Probably neither...

If you like extreme metal, you will love this album. The clean vocals are gone, replaced by shrieks, gurgles and (sometimes) whispers. A new drummer has been added to the band, giving a much heavier sound. The black metal elements are back in force, acoustic guitars are almost gone, as well as the melodic parts.

The big problem here is the overall sound. Most of the songs here sound like unfinished versions of actual songs, and worse than that, unfinished versions of old songs. It's really like listening to their first demo...

There are still good moments, but they are diluted in the background noise, distorted guitars, harsh vocals, blastbeats...

Tracks

1.

Short intro with an atonal cello. It's really missing the emotions you would expect from such a song.

2.

Plain raw black/death metal with shrieks and blastbeats. A clear step back from the two previous albums.

3.

This sounds like elements from Pale Folklore, The Mantle and Ashes Against The Grain blended together in an indigest soup. The vocals, especially, are ugly on this track.

4.

This could be a copy-paste demo of "In the Shadow of your Pale Companion". Reminds me a lot of old Katatonia stuff... especially their first demo back in 1992.

5.

Recently I was listening to Dimmu Borgir's album "Stormblast"... the original version... This song really reminds me of some of the songs on that album. Mid-paced black metal with occasional blastbeats...

6.
B To Drown 10:27

The title says it all... a drowning sound, very reminiscent to the closing track of the previous album, in the background of what could have been a very melancholic song.

Review by PowerWyrm published
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A Prog Post Metal

I don't really know what to think of this album... the band continues on the same post metal sound, this time less bleak and repetitive than on The Mantle, and the music is really good here... but unfortunately the vocals are horrible. There are less clean vocals, and when the singer uses harsh vocals (that is on every track except the three instrumentals), it's unfortunately some really ugly gurgling voice...

Tracks

1.
S Limbs 9:51
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Review by PowerWyrm published
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S Melodic Prog Post Black

This is a wonderful album. Dark, relaxing, poetic, full of folkish influences... very fascinating. It would have been a masterpiece but unfortunately the (harsh, black metal-like) vocals are not of the same quality as the music and they often feel out of place.

Tracks

1.

A short instrumental acoustic that introduces the main melodical theme - somehow reminds me of another band, australian fine doom metal act The Eternal.

2.

The epic track on this album - it extends the main theme with vocals (but why the use of harsh vocals where a more whispering voice would have matched the relaxing music more nicely...)

3.
S Odal 7:40

A conclusion to the trilogy that makes the first part of "The Mantle" - the first time I listened to that instrumental, I simply stood breathless for the last minute wondering what just happened... probably the most beautiful song I heard since My Dying Bride's "For My Fallen Angel".

4.

A happier song with clear folkish influences (the kind of french folkish influences that can be found on early Opeth albums, see "Black Rose Immortal" on Morningrise for example)

5.
S The Lodge 4:40

The third instrumental of the album... and again completely different from the previous two - more folkish oriented with added instruments (acoustic bass and percussives).

6.

Probably the heaviest track here (and my least favorite one) - it starts with clean singing and whispering, but then the melody changes to a kind of black metal riff with double bass and harsh vocals.

7.

A very long instrumental divided in two parts - the first half is a classic acoustic/electric guitar duet, the second half is heavier with distorted guitars.

8.

The ballad of the album - although it contains a small part with harsh vocals (My Dying Bride did that too for "My Wine In Silence", which I find a bit strange for a ballad - and here the harsh vocals are really out of place), it is very relaxing (double acoustic guitars, acoustic bass, mournful distorted rhythm guitar, peaceful clean vocals, ending again with the main theme - the one that can be heard during the first three tracks).

9.

This ends the album on a very sombre note - acoustic guitars/bass, accordion and mandolin come with the spoken/whispered vocals about a man drinking aroud a fire to forget his pains and sorrows.

Review by Mike published
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B Bleak Atmospheric Modern Prog Post Black

A decent album, although I must admit that I don't understand how others can think of it as a masterpiece, I do understand how someone could like this album much more than I do. It's really repetitive, mostly "eventless" and the occasional growling vocals are uncalled for in my opinion. The folk elements are implemented very nicely, but in the heavy parts the drums are often a bit out of sync with the rest of the band.

Tracks

1.
2.
3.
B Odal 7:40
4.
5.
C The Lodge 4:40

I can't see what's remarkable about this track - it's more like a long, eventless segue.

6.

This doesn't grab my attention - a lot of tremolo picking, fairly conventional chord progressions, uncalled-for growling.

7.

A nice track - unfortunately there are quite some timing problems (drums) in the middle section that annoy me a little bit.

8.
9.
Review by ivansfr0st published
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S Rock

Agalloch's first full-length album Pale Folklore , often underlooked even by the band's most hardcore followers, is more than just an outstanding debut. Utilizing influences from various sources, from 80's Gothic Rock to Ethnic Folk music, from Italian 70's Symphonic Prog to Norwegian 90's Black Metal's scene, and much much more, Agalloch managed to create a unique, extraordinary style of their own, achieving something nobody had achieved before. Opeth are famous(well, in our circles anyway)for combining two parts - mellow and heavy - to create a very special sound. Agalloch , whose influences were as diverse as Opeth's , from the fusion of all elements gained one sound that is very easy to recognise if you have experienced this amazing band.

The album starts with the atmospheric She Painted Fire Across The Skyline , consisting of three parts. The first part starts out slow and maybe a little repetitive, but sets the vibe of the album very well. Although Pale Folklore is more often dynamic, the mood of the album is melancholic from the beginning until the end. The melodic riff that starts at about 3:00 gives me chills everytime I hear it, it is also done again in the end of the third part of the epic track. I'm not sure which part is my favourite: I would tell this about the third part, but, unfotunately, it is ruined by the spoken vocals just before the 1:00 mark, which sounds out of place and, fortunately, is the only thing you can blame this masterpiece for, which doesn't make it any worse than it is, really. The forth track is an instrumental, in fact the only one on this record, and doesn't follow the pace of the whole work - it is gentle and nice, with piano's and flutes, a very sad instrumental indeed. I'm not going to describe every other track, because they are quite similiar, which is crucial in making an album a masterpiece, in my opinion, as having too many ideas for a group of musicians who, most of the time, can not turn them into one single idea, while not a disaster, often gives their music more faults; instead, I will just speak on the album as a whole.

The album has a specific mood and everything: the music, the instruments, the vocals and the lyrics follow it without a single failure, which I find remarkable. The vocals are something that I should speak on in the first place. Most of the singing on the album(about 90% probably)is harsh, and could be quite unusual to the ears of any listener, whether you are a classical progger, or a metalhead. However, although I say "harsh", don't get me wrong: there are no loud, over the top screams, which I also find fortunate, as any other style of singing would make the album less wonderful than it is. There is no virtuosity or plastics in the vocals, but just like I said, this vibe in music wouldn't go in foot with, say, Russell Allen(take no offense, heheh). The songwriting is inspiring from the beginning until the very last second, and for me is one of the finest examples of creativity and hearing in contemporary music. The riffs are all melodic and done to follow the mood set by the musicians, they flow into each other very well. I will be most likely wrong when I say this, but to me the riffs sound like what Iron Maiden would write if they were depressed all the time. A work of pure genius. The drumming is done very well for a group without a specific person as a drummer, and the bass work, which I can't hear all the time, maybe because of the flaws of production, maybe because I find it most advnetorous to listen to the record in headphones at about half of the maximum volume(which I recommend you too!). There is a rich amount of instrumental sections and whole parts, where musicians display their emotions instrumentally for the sake of displaying emotion not showing pretention or technical overkill. I have nothing against technical musicians, but in the case of this album, it is done perfect.

The conclusion, therefore, is that you don't have this album on your hands, you are missing out greatly. No matter what listener you are, Agalloch 's Pale Folklore should be as dear and special to any listener, as it is to me. The album's successor, The Mantle is appreciated more widely, but personally I think that this is the best starting point for any intellectual and adventorous fan of music. Highly recommended, this is an essential masterpiece!

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