Any Opeth comparison is senseless and unfair. To me, Agalloch is strange marriage of Norwegian metal's halcyon elegy, seas of atmosphere, folk music, screeching metal, and more. So smoothly integrated are these styles that the designation of "metal" becomes hardly satisfying, or at least Agalloch hammers the mold to suit themselves. Their "metal" -- a term presumably assigned because of some harsh vocals and double-bass drumming -- is soft and haunting and gorgeous. The glassy distortion on the guitars is the dull gleam of sunlight beyond gray clouds rather than machine gun battery. Acoustic guitars dominate, punctuated with layers of electric guitars (rather than simple synth chords). Most importantly, Agalloch here develops seductive atmospheres and achieves them beautifully thanks to a lush but subdued production job. (Production is the only knock that can be sustained by their excellent debut, _Pale Folklore_.) Haughm's voice is one of the eeriest I've ever heard, the vocals split between harrowing rasps and gritty, forlorn whispers. Although his voice was difficult to adjust to (it's very...different), I love it now. Instrumentation that seemed unchanging and simple proves to be very diverse on repeated listens. It helps to actually look at song credits and see what instruments are involved because they are very subtly integrated: from the symphonic percussion on "...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth" to the bristly mandolin of "A Desolation Song" to the beautiful, understated trombone theme in "The Hawthorne Passage" to the realms of texture within each song. Special note for "A Desolation Song", which uses the accordion (ggyah!) beautifully. Who would have thought... Concerning that textural element, Agalloch is amazing in the way they weave different threads and progression in passages that are quite minimalist. "The Lodge" is an epochal instrumental that feels like you are rising from a winter forest on Earth to the cosmos. First it is only pastoral acoustic guitar chords shimmering as sparse percussion beats in the distance. Agalloch slowly adds nebulous texture after texture (double bass and electric guitars), which gives the music a nearly tangible rising sensation. Finally an empyrean electric guitar line is the only remaining sound as the other instruments retreat, leaving one with a feeling of transcendence and power. This is just one (short) example of Agalloch's brilliant writing and arrangements. The "heavy" songs are not really heavy at all: the double-bass drum intro of "I Am the Wooden Doors" is hardly threatening in and of itself and the gorgeous acoustic guitar break in the middle is sublime; "You Were But A Ghost In My Arms" is an epic electric/acoustic flow of longing and melancholy, intense in its own way but hardly heavy a la metal. Probably the best things I can say about Agalloch are: their music is extremely difficult to describe and it gets _much_ better every time I listen. This music makes me want to curl up by a fire because it is icy and cold, but ultimately beautiful and amazing...

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 03 November, 2014.

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