Agalloch evoke thoughts of forests, long winters, and expansive spaces filled with Mother Nature’s creations getting along harmoniously. They have twisted and stretched metal genres, such as folk, death and black metal, in their wake.
Their trademark acoustic interludes, combined with vocalist John Haughm‘s brutal growls, makes them almost instantly recognizable. Agalloch‘s previous releases have all brought something different to the table, and The Serpent and the Sphere is no different. This time around, they seems to be a more stripped down, straightforward version of the band. The dynamics they are known for are still very present, but once again, their sound has evolved. This is an album that must be listened to in it’s entirety to appreciate the expansive chasm opened here by Agalloch.
“Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation,” the album’s 10-plus minute opener, is what they are all about. The folky, Pink Floyd sounding acoustic guitar melds perfectly with the melody and atmosphere, and the juxtaposition created by Haughm’s vocals is haunting. “(Serpens Caput)” is a beautiful, dark instrumental that leads to the “Astral Dialogue,” a sludgy, almost catchy track that has a rich tone and flawless production. “Dark Matter Gods” boasts a rolling bass line mixed with weeping, melodic guitar tone that lead to an incredible crescendo. “Celestial Effigy” blends the talents of all of Agalloch, then takes it to a whole new level. Everything here is perfect. “Plateau of Ages,” a 13-plus minute instrumental, goes by in a flash, further highlighting the song writing skills of the band.
Agalloch have reached a new high in the career with The Serpent and the Sphere and reign supreme as the leaders in this genre of music.
The Serpent and the Sphere is out now on Profound Lore Records.
Rating: 5/5 Stars