Here is the concluding reviews of Agalloch’s extensive discography. This time around Agalloch tried some really interesting things with their final albums. There are some amazing songs to be found but the magic that Agalloch was known for was waning in the later years. Though I can say with confidence that they went out with the same solid reputation they had when they first started. It was a heck of journey for Agalloch and they will forever be known as the metal band that always remained true to their vision and art.
Marrow of the Spirit, 8/10
In another four years Agalloch released “Marrow of the Spirit” when I first got a chance to hear this album I enjoyed it but felt like it was missing something. The more I listened the more I started to love it. The production was very different and really gave a dark, earthy feeling to the album throughout. While hearing the songs I could taste death in the air and felt the biting cold in my bones. What really first threw me off was how heavy the second track “Into the Painted Grey” was. When Aesop incredibly loud and fast snare work came into play I knew I was in for a heavier version of Agalloch. The more the song went the more interesting it got, and the moods were layered upon layered. It was a different feeling to me compared to the more zoned out wistfulness I felt in the earlier albums. The music felt more immediate and much, much darker. It was a feeling I had to get used to and by the time I did I regularly spun “Marrow of the Spirit”. I gave the album an eight because “The Watcher’s Monolith” and “To Drown” didn’t move me as much as the other tracks on the album did. Top three songs: Black Lake Nidstang, Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires, and Into the Painted Grey
Faustian Echoes, 10/10
When Agalloch announced they will be doing their longest song yet in the ‘Faustian Echoes” EP I was hyped to hear how it will sound. When I got my hands on the album I was immediately energized to hear that Agalloch went straight black metal for his album. The tremolo riffs were in abundance and vocals were as black metal as can be. I loved that they decided to go old school for this song. There was a sense of malice and evil all throughout the 21 minute running time. What makes this EP even more amazing is how Agalloch incorporated guitar leads and tones to even give the song a sense of hope and light. The running time blitzed by with “Faustian Echoes” when a song that long is able to make it feel quick, that tells you it will be a classic song…which it is.
The Serpent and the Sphere, 8/10
This is Agalloch’s last album and one that probably had the most mixed reviews I have seen in their discography. I was very enthused to hear this album when the band members describe it as one of their heaviest yet. What could go wrong with an even heavier Agalloch album? Well as the reviews came through there was a lot of negativity about “The Serpent and Sphere” some people describe it as exhausted and mediocre. When I started seeing these reviews I was becoming concerned that one of the greatest bands ever were losing the passion and drive they had before in earlier albums. As I finally got a chance to listen to it, I was actually really enjoying what I heard. The production was immense and the tones were deep, heavy and haunting like the outer rims of space. There was homage to the funeral doom genre in “The Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation” this is one of my favorite songs on it, I loved hearing Agalloch go slow and plodding and just oppressive. Then we are graced with some beautiful spacey acoustic passages by Musk Ox’s Nathanael Larochette. These quick snippets of classical guitar kind of brought the listener back to earth for a bit before being launched back into the Milky Way Galaxy. Then Agalloch creates 3 epic and awesome tunes back-to-back in “The Astral Dialogue”, “Dark Matter Gods”, and “Celestial Effigy” these are the finest three songs I have heard by Agalloch and “The Astral Dialogue” being one of their heaviest songs yet.
I was really digging this album and then what brought the rating down to an 8 was the last two songs “Vales Beyond Dimension” and “Plateau of the Ages” these songs didn’t wow me like the earlier tracks, they were not very interesting and had that dreaded “filler” feel to them. I was so used to consistent Agalloch for years and years, hearing these songs dampened my spirits a bit. The one positive I can say about “Plateau of the Ages” is it is a hell of a great instrumental but ended too soon, I was hoping for more “The Hawthrone Passage” and “Odal” feel to the song, but it ended too abruptly. I really enjoyed this album as it started but then it waned later which left me wanting more. The one thing that I really liked about “The Serpent and Sphere” is the sense of continuity when the album ends it seemingly begins again seamlessly which gives it an almost one song broken into separate parts feel to things. Top Three Songs: The Birth and Death of The Pillars of Creation, Dark Matter Gods, and The Astral Dialogue.