Wednesday, December 8, 2010

AGALLOCH - Marrow of the Spirit CD review

AGALLOCH - Marrow of the Spirit CD
Profound Lore Records

While some might be turned off in a WTF? way by the opening sounds of water flowing, the chirping of birds and last but not least, a cello solo all I have to say is that's AGALLOCH for you. The opener "They Escaped the Weight of Darkness" might turn off plenty of Metal fans and to me that's a good thing. Actually AGALLOCH has a way of pissing off a lot of people including some of their fair weather fanbase who see the band as just another coattail to jump on while holding true to their snobbish hipster retardation musical lifestyle. As for me well I couldn't care less if the band takes their sweet time in between putting out releases because quality takes time. AGALLOCH, who combine elements of Folk, Black and Doom Metal, create a unique sound with textures that simply float around. This Portland, Oregon band's latest is just their fourth full length in fourteen years of existence, although they have released a slew of EPs and some "best of" dinks. I dare say Marrow of the Spirit is their most accessible full length for people who just wanna get into em now.

If you can make it through the opening cello number, which is performed by guest musician Jackie Perez Gratz, then things take a dramatic turn. "Into the Painted Grey" lets loose with some tremolo picked blackened riffage plus the obligatory blastbeats. The song then alternates between Doom laden melodies, acoustic guitar passages and riffs that will awaken your atmospheric Black Metal sensibilities. "The Watcher's Monolith" starts out as a depressive Doom cut with acoustic and electric guitar melodies for close to a minute and a half until it breaks into a more rockish movement. The song alternates in that pattern throughout adding even shoegazer aesthetics which didn't even make a jaded bastard like myself run away screaming "hipster crap be gone from my home". Yes as a matter of fact I have done that but it was in the summer while the windows were open so the CD could fly out as well. Now that it's winter I'm stuck chucking the dinks as hard as I can at a US CHRISTMAS flyer on the wall that's fairly scarred from multiple attacks.

"Black Lake Nidstang" is the release's seventeen and a half minute three part opus of gloom. The first part is an oppressive doom instrumental matching what sounds like kettle drums, singular power riffs and background guitar solo torture plus more classical guitar playing. After about five minutes vocalist John Haughm whispers his way in like a ghost voice on a cold breeze. He soon moves onto the tortured animal vocal style and why not since this song will freeze your nuts off. At the point where you think the song is over it then progresses into an electronic drone interlude and finally ending in full on blackened mode. By this point of the CD I was fairly frozen to my chair and there were two more cuts to go. "Ghosts of Midwinter Fires" is probably my favorite cut on here because it's the shortest, besides the opener, at just over nine and a half minutes and it reminds me of the band's past material. It's fuzzed out atmospheric blackness at it's best. The final cut "To Drown" is definitely the ass dragger of the release especially after what came before it. The song is pure ambient doom which could put you to sleep starting off but ends with a thunderous wall of noise. Like I mentioned earlier Marrow of the Spirit might be this band's most accessible full length. It's shorter than past releases and the production is incredibly distorted which I find amazing since their past material can be abrasively clean.




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