Agalloch's tour de force
Agalloch's two previous full-length albums, "Pale Folklore" and "The Mantle", were both landmark metal-related albums and fascinating for their ability to create atmosphere. "Pale Folklore" was more guitar driven while "The Mantle" for the most part forsook heaviness for beautiful, clean leads. What we have here is the ideal combination of the two in addition to new elements and influences. Agalloch truly has written some of their most beautiful music yet. The epic "Fire Above, Ice Below" has exquisite melody combined with the slow, expansive guitar riffs that drove so much of "Pale Folklore". It's most certainly a standout track. However, Agalloch shows they are continually evolving with the eerie dark ambient tracks "This White Mountain On Which You Will Die" and "Our Fortress Is Burning... III - The Grain", as well as the crushingly heavy main riff of "Not Unlike the Waves". "Not Unlike the Waves" is possibly Agalloch's most accomplished song yet, although that does not take away from any of the other tracks. Prior to this album, in this reviewer's humble opinion, Agalloch's triumph had been "In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion" from "The Mantle". Each song here, with the exclusion of the dark ambient bridging tracks, is the equal or better of that song, not an easy feat. The album never bores and transitions between sections of songs and between the songs themselves are absolutely seamless. In order to feel the full force of the album, it must be listened to as a whole. It's epic, engrossing, atmospheric, addictive, and pretty much perfect.
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