February 2, 2013

Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork By Mark Thompson

In the span of three full lengths and multiple E.P.’s Agalloch have established themselves in the metal community. Their unique way of combining Black Metal, Post-Rock, Neo-Folk, DOOM, and multitude of other influences have set them apart. They have done what so many bands try and do and that is create their own sound. As soon as you hear them you know who it is. Their influence so big they already have countless clones. But never content to stand still, Agalloch grow with each new release. Marrow of the Spirit is no different and again shows the band shedding the past and moving forward.

Photo by Taylor Keahey

They set the mood right away with the instrumental “They Escaped The Weight of Darkness” Lush cello over the sound of a babbling brook and accompanied by chirping birds. Then the pounding of Aesop’s drums take you out of the sublime and “Into the Painted Gray”. Hearing this live was amazing. It was like an explosion of energy. Right away you get the feeling there is more of an emphasis on their Black Metal influences over the Post-Rock influence that was heavy on Ashes. The other thing you notice is what a great addition Aesop’s drumming is to the band’s sound(this being his first album to contain his drumming on it even though his being in the band since 2007). The crown jewel for many with this album is Black Lake Niðstång. Epic and emotional best describe this song. At seventeen and half minutes long it is the longest track on the album. But the beauty is it never lags or bores. Instead the seventeen minutes give the listener plenty to hear and keeps their attention(it also contains piano and field recordings courtesy of Jeffrey Neblock of a fantastic Ambient band called Vindensång). But for me, my favorite track is “Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires”. This song grabbed me the moment I heard it. The opening guitar line has a bit of an 80’s era U2 feel to it. Another track I am lucky to have heard live and it does not disappoint.

Photo by Taylor Keahey

Once again Agalloch have put forth an album that expands on what they have established in their almost 20 years as a band without repeating what had come before. In all honesty this album took a few listens to for me to really appreciate it. But I find that some of my all time favorite albums start that way.

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