Its been four long years since my favorite American Black Metal band released an album. Well, the new one is here and it was well worth the wait.
The cello and field recordings of "They escaped the Weight of Darkness" introduce us to the new Agalloch. Its a beautiful ambient interlude that gives way to "Into the Painted Grey" which heralds the blastbeats and fine-tuned aggression of new drummer Aesop Dekker, who finally gives them the heavy handed sound they've been looking for.
"The Watcher's Monolith" calls to mind the Neo-Folk tendencies of "The Mantle". The acoustic-laden Post-Rock of this gorgeous track reminds me just how versatile this band can be.
The track I'd heard about but still wasn't prepared for is "Black Lake Nidstang", a seventeen minute sprawling epic worthy of the hype its been receiving. A minimal beginning gives way to a driving sludgy rhythm with a surprisingly clean yet plaintive vocal track. After a lovely seemingly infinite period, the tracks unravels into a droning experimental soundscape with a beautifully simple guitar loop before returning to the meat of the track and eventually decaying in a luscious fashion.
The closing track "To Drown" is by no means anti-climactic after the beast of a track prior. It holds its own as a classic Agalloch track reminding us of the Drudkh-like nature of this band but distinguishes itself with a classical march that resolves the album in a very mature and dignified manner.
Personally, I already prefer it over "The Mantle". Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe its just the fact that I'm a drummer and as an Agalloch fan, I finally dig the drummer. What's certain is that herein lies another Post-Black Metal Shoegaze Folk (insert label here) classic. I have been working on my albums of the year list and this one crept up on me. I couldn't be happier that it did.
Get It Here