Dissonance, over the top and complex time changes, arpeggioing galore and dull atmosphere is everything this album is NOT about. In the face of continuous depletion of ideas, many bands try to serve their listeners a crazy cocktail of a billion genres and do not care about an actual musical and atmospherical concept. It is hence with great joy that I listened to the bands debut Pale Folklore, an astonishingly dense piece of work with an atmosphere so thick you thought you’d need a chainsaw to keep the trees growing out of your speakers at bay!
Most bands would have played it safe while recording the follow up to a critically aclaimed album but Agalloch stepped up their game and served us this amazing album known to us humans under the name of The Mantle. I use this formulation because I find it hard to believe that this piece of genius could have been written without any sort of supernatural intervention and indeed, if one considers nature as a divinity itself it all makes much more sense as to where the inspiration for these amazing tunes dwells from. It is hard to explain because the thing about this album is that its range of atmospheres can set the listener in many different moods and feelings. They all seem to surround the theme of movement, with or without destination (the lyrics suggest that the destination might be consolation from failed love) though. Hints to this are found for example in the walking sounds of “The Lodge”. The slow pace of the song suggests that progress is moderate though. In addition, the songs are all characterized by a general drive that is mainly created by the acoustic or distorted guitar chords and gentle drums supported by the lofty and sublime vocals of John Haughm who is using his clean vocals a lot more now which is another strong point of this album. His voice carries the songs on a completely new level and I feel that the timing for the harsh vocals is not as unfortunate as it was the case on some songs on Pale Folklore.
Agalloch created a masterpiece. The spectrum of emotions it can unlock within you is just too vast and no review in this world could do it justice. But trust me when I say that this unique mix of doom/rock riffs, acoustic guitars, beautiful vocal and instrumental melodies, delightful usage of bells and horns and many other devices, create a sonic journey you are not likely to forget anytime soon!
01. A Celebration For The Death Of Man…