Agalloch - The White
Not exactly what I was expecting from an Agalloch release, but all the same it's exactly what I should have expected from an Agalloch release. "The White" is an EP, just dropped in February, that is apparently supposed to be a continuation of their previous EP "The Grey". The only difference being, while Grey was just a couple of re-constructions of their own songs, White is all-new material, written within the last 3 years and, perhaps, saved up just for an album like this.
After the first listen, I was wondering where all the great metal moments from Agalloch albums like "Pale Folklore" and "Ashes Against The Grain" were; after getting over that, it was easier to appreciate the mellow, melancholy and slightly morbid feel behind these 7 ambient/neo-folk pieces. Most utilize soft acoustic melodies, folky and very well played, and wash the backround with haunting ambient noise, electronic chills and even the occasional spurt of lead guitar, all cleverly put together as to flow like pure H20. These guys have matured so much from their early days, it's quite satisfying to hear them at the top of just one half of their overall game.
There is an apparent theme behind the album; several of the track titles (ironically my favorite tracks, "Isle of Summer" and "Sowilo Rune") seem to refer to the British cult horror classic "The Wicker Man" (which some of you less-cultured might recall as a recently-butchered Nicolas Cage-starred remake). The moodiness of that great film is persistent across the span of these tracks, and while the album seems lengthy for an EP with 7 (awesome) songs clocking in at just over a half hour, there's enough musical passion and identity here to create at least an album's worth of 'em. Agalloch are one of my favorite American metal bands of all time, and one of the best on the scene today. Albums like this just keep proving me, and them, right as can be.
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