Saturday, 12 February 2011

Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit [2010]

I wouldn’t call myself Agalloch fan, although I know all their works and I love this kind of music. They were always ‘good’ to me,  some songs even “very, very good” but they never managed to make me scream “oh yes! That’s it, that’s my agallochish eargasm!” Well, I was hoping that Marrow of the Spirit would be an album I’d love in every minute, but is it?

They Escaped The Weight Of Darkness aka they escaped the metal music and jumped into the forest to sit by the rivulet with a cello and mourn! Or less metaphorically – a beautiful classic-stylised intro in a minimalistic Philip Glass type, but accompanied by a shimmering water. Played by Jackie Perez Gratz known – among others – from Grayceon and Giant Squid.

Into The Painted Grey we will be led by hammering guitar. That song is like a definition of Agalloch style – fast guitar riffs and growls between long, calmer instrumental parts - but somehow it seems a bit more condensed, intense than their earlier works...

The Watcher’s Monolith is again backed up by extra artists – Vindensång keyboard player - Jeffrey Neblock and Steven Wray Lobdell on vocals. The doubled vocals (also clean), keys and more acoustic guitars build a lovely mysterious atmosphere. Also post-rockish breaks can gain your attention (or help you focus if you tend to lose it). Sighs, laments, these are all well known & loved band tricks. And here we are to end with another lovely classic-forest solo...

And move to the droneland of guitar. Black Lake Niðstång that is. Drone- because our guest is Nathan Carson coming straight from Sunn O))) and ruling the army of keys, vibraphones and glockenspiels. Land- because Niðstång is an object coming straight from ancient Vikings’ kingdom. It’s a kind of a pole (ladies, DO NOT even think of jumping on this one!) used for cursing the enemy. So the title can be easily interpreted as a cursing pole of Black Lake’s nation;) But let’s give it back to its owner and speak of music. As I said, we’re welcomed by a drone, not really so Agallochish atmosphere, although later on they try to explain themselves to orthodox fans. But the amazing, heavy instrumentals don’t leave us! Hail the cursing pole, it’s a really evil, doomy song. An over 17minute giant that to me seems to pass faster than any of the other songs on this album. A plenty of well synchronised, innovative motives.

Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires rised a real fire inside my heart. It doesn’t have really much in common with metal – but the ghost of it is packed  into stunning post-rockish frames (even post-metal at times). Lots of positive energy that doesn’t need much words to be described.

They escaped the weight of darkness
To Drown in another...
So the heavy doomy darkness and the lovely post-rockish darkness drowned in a pesymistic, acoustic song with some strings – again in a very classic style. And nice exotic drums added by Veleda Thorsson. Lovely, almost catchy song.

This album gives me a lot of doubt. It is really amazing, a good piece of great music, but have I became finally satisfied with them? It makes a huge impression on me, but doesn’t give me the thrills I’d like to feel. I guess I am not able the question if that’s my most favourite work of them. But maybe for you it will become their magnum opus?

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