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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Agalloch website  Agalloch - Of Stone, Wind and Pillor [The End - 2001]

Finally something new from this band that I greatly admire for their compositional skills! Actually, this 5 songs MCD is not completely new; the first 3 songs are re-heated (yet tasty) and they are taken from a 7" EP that was recorded in '98 and never released. The remaining two songs are a cover of Sol Invictus' "Kneel to the Cross" and a neo-classical piece by Breyer.

For those who are not (yet) familiar with the band, they could be described as playing a gloomy and bleak form of music that has roots in doom and black metal (although it's neither of those) and they also draw influences from the more moody end of the spectrum of folk and classical.

The first three songs are very much in the style of the band's debut, the excellent "Pale Folklore", except that they are a just a tiny bit rawer and the band's influences sometimes surface like, for example, at around 4:20 in the first song when a Katatonia inspired riff is played. Don't get me wrong, Agalloch is definitely original and stands on it's own! I'd even go as far as to say that they sometimes surpass their mentors...

The cover of "Kneel to the Cross" is quite interesting if only for the fact that it shows that the band is still alive (it was recorded in May of this year). It uses all clean vocals, which are walking the line between 'good' and 'okay' (nothing that a little practice won't solve - the potential seems to be there), and the instrumental playing is quite good. It takes away the Latin bit at the beginning and makes the first part faster; well, in facts it re-arranges the whole song and adds quite a few things. The production on that track is puzzling; it's better than the one of "Pale Folklore" on all instruments except on the electric guitar which is quite muddy. Nonetheless, it doesn't detract from the quality of the cover, a success in my opinion.

The last song, "A Poem by Yeats", departs a little from the "suicide, woods & snow" theme that is present in most of Agalloch's music and instead creates an ambience that, to me, is more pastoral and cryptic. Somewhere between space-rock and medieval cult-hymn. I suppose that what I just said makes no sense to some people (and Breyer himself), but the important thing is that I find that composition quite exquisite and enjoyable even though it's even more mellow than Agalloch's usual material.

If this was a school project, I would give it a A-

Now I can't wait for the next full length release by these guys and I certainly hope that they will still sound as inspired as in the past, whatever they decide to do (as I don't think that they will repeat themselves)...

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

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