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The Grey EP is getting a lot hate for some reasons and it seems to be coming from people who call themselves fans of Agalloch. This is why I really felt the need to write this review. To explain why I felt it got such a bad reception from fans, and to explain why it was misunderstood.
The Grey is an album that includes remixed versions of other tracks by Agalloch. The first one, The Lodge (Dismantled) is an experiment based on a track from the album The Mantle and named The Lodge. The original track was rather short, at least by Agalloch standard and only lasted four minutes and forty seconds. The “dismantled” version of the track is now thirteen minutes and twelve seconds long. It doesn’t share many elements with the original tracks as it is far more experimental and repetitive. The central riff is played in loop over a long period of time and slowly layers of sounds are added to the mix as the drums jump in. Soundscaping noises fill the background of the track while eventually the central riff sees itself change overtime while a few notes are thrown in. Then the bass and rhythm guitar repeat the riff while the lead guitar starts its own melody. Overtime, the track really does progress even more, which is why I can’t seem to understand the bad critics thrown at this album. Some people have called it a weird experiment and complained about the lack of orientation of the album or the lack of focus on melodies. None of this is true. The Lodge Dismantled is a beautiful and melodic experiment done by a great band. On this one, Agalloch tried to approach some of their already released material with a more drone/ambient and post-rock oriented approach. While these elements have been present in Agalloch’s music since The Mantle and even more on Ashes Against The Grain, here on The Grey, they are pushed even further and placed in the foreground.
Odal (Nothing Remix), which is the second track of this EP would, according to its own name, be a remix of the track Odal, also from the album The Mantle. The listener will quickly find though, that both tracks really are a lot different. The original track Odal was a very melodic dark metal/post-rock/folk metal oriented masterpiece, while the remix is mostly drone/ambient oriented. Nothing of the beautiful leads from the Odal remains on the Nothing Remix. What we get instead are a bunch of drones, noises, layered guitars, soundscapes and sampled sounds.
Fans came at this record with the impression that the tracks found on this record would be slightly modified versions of beloved tracks from the album The Mantle. But anybody who knows Agalloch should have known better. Agalloch doesn’t simply go back to their old material to improve it a little and sell the same slightly different crap to fanboys. What Agalloch did there was a true artistic experimentation that gave pretty good results I must say. The Lodge (Dismantled) stands out on this record as it shows just how much of an artist’s soul these guys have.
The Grey had a bad reception to people who call themselves fans but who really do not fully understand Agalloch’s music. The music they release on full-length albums is generally more accessible because of the beautiful leads, the melodic progression of the music, greatly mixed elements of various genres such as post-rock, folk metal, progressive rock, black metal and more. What some of the fans seem to forget is that they also have roots in drone, ambient and neofolk. I can go as far as saying that Agalloch would be nothing without these influences, for what makes this band so experimental when it comes to the sound production, the guitar effects and sampling is their interest in a music that is all about noise, sound experimentations, layering guitars, layering effects, playing with distortion and feedback... I named drone.
Drone isn’t really popular among metalheads for various reasons. But one should understand that drone and post-rock for instance, plays an important role in Agalloch’s music. It became more obvious in 2006 with the release of Ashes Against The Grain, which contains a very good drone-oriented metal track named Our Fortress is Burning... III - The Grain and also Scars Of The Shattered Sky (Our Fortress Has Burned to the Ground) on the special edition of the record. And I don’t recall anybody complaining about it this time. Also, Agalloch has toured with the band Taurus in 2012. If Taurus is mostly a Sunn O))) worship band, this should at least give a clear indication of what scenes Agalloch is trying to associate itself with.
Back on the record, I think Agalloch has proved with this record that they really are great artists who won’t sacrifice anything of their need to experiment, explore and create for the purpose of not losing fans or displeasing anybody with their music. In many ways this record is solid. Not only is The Lodge (Dismantled) a very good track on its own, but even Odal or the drone parts of the first track are very well done and retain the personality of Agalloch even in a style that they haven’t approached this way before.
Very good EP that I recommend to anybody who can keep an open-mind to more experimental expressions of the musical art.
As a great way to contrast the much lighter and folkier 'White EP,' Agalloch wanders deeply into the realm of doom, drone and dark ambient with 'The Grey.' Taking two songs from their acclaimed masterpiece 'The Mantle' and warping them into different compositions altogether, 'The Grey' can easily be considered a piece of work of it's own. In fact, unless one listens very carefully to the music here, it's hard to tell these pieces were derived from other tracks at all.
In any case, this is not the most exciting or emotive twenty minute EP I have heard; it is certainly not meant for more than a few listens in a sitting. In any case, this is an interesting experiment from the band. Taking an acoustic interlude ('The Lodge') from their studio length album and expanding it over the course of almost fourteen minutes into a doom epic is pretty impressive. In any case, almost all of the riffs are taken from the original song. Things are made alot heavier, and the use of repetition is very heavy here, seeing as they are taking four minutes of material and stretching it out for so long. In any case, it gives a completely new perspective on the riffs, although someone who was not a fan of the band would not realize and appreciate the thought that went into the creation.
The second track 'Odal (Nothing)' is an even further cry from it's original song. It is a subdued ambient track, much in a lower key vein of the noise music opus the band fashioned at the end of 'Ashes Against The Grain.' However, things here aren't nearly as interesting or engaging as they were on other sound experiments the band has done in the past, making this new apparent rendition of 'Odal' pretty forgettable.
Not poor by any standard, but not a piece of work I would recommend to someone who was not a fan of Agalloch to begin with. For a much more complete and standalone EP, try 'The White.'
Agalloch has been known to release highly experimental EPs. With making experimental music, not every experiment is going to turn out to be brilliant. While this is by far the worse thing Agalloch has ever released, its really not as bad as people say. And no, saying it is the worse thing Agalloch has ever released does not imply that it isn't good; Agalloch usually has very high standards. For the most part, its actually pretty enjoyable. My problem with it is its too damn long for its own good.
"The Lodge (Dismantled)" starts this EP. It bears little in relation to "The Lodge" that is found on their sophomore album, except for a guitar line that is not all that prominent. In this song, Agalloch shows their post-rock influences, which would later become a staple of their Ashes Against the Grain album. The only difference is that this is much more upbeat post-rock than that displayed on their third album. For the most part it is very enjoyable, with memorable melodies and a great flow. It does, however, last longer than it needs to. The real problem with the song is the ending: four minutes of feedback. Four fucking minutes. Thirty seconds of feedback would have been a very appropriate way to end the dismantled version of a beautiful song, but four minutes is just beyond excessive.
"Odal (Nothing Remix)" generates a lot of hate for this EP. Obviously, people would be taken by surprise by Agalloch making a slow noise song, but it isn't bad for what it is. In fact, if it was a dark ambient band that did this, I don't think anybody would have a problem with it. The grainy static noises that start the song give off a powerful feeling of destruction. When this fades away (only to return later), hypnotic ambiance is introduced. This song is not horrible like many people say it is, its just really different than what Agalloch usually puts out. Just like the other song, it does seem to go on a little longer than it needs to do. In an Agalloch interview, it was said that the original Odal was meant to be a personal protest against George W. Bush's destructive environmental policies. The original song was beautiful, this song is destructive. Perhaps this is meant to symbolize the destruction of the landscapes that the original song embodied.
When this was released, many fans were worried that this was the beginning of a new direction for Agalloch. It proved to just be an experiment, like many of their EPs are. While this isn't nearly as good as its majestic counterpart (The White EP), this still has interesting moments.
I'm sorry to give such a bad mark to an Agalloch release, because Agalloch are one of my favourite bands. But this Ep is really incomprehensible. Two songs, if we can call them "songs", because at least the half of the Ep is made of annoying noise and strange experimentations which lead nowhere. The first track, "The Lodge: Dismantled", could seem interesting at the first listening, but it's however very, very monotonous and when you've finished to listen to that, you wonder why you should listen to it another time. There always is this buzzing guitar which plays the same melody, with parts of the original "The Lodge" put as an accompanyment, but no more. In the last minutes, only noise. The second track, a remixed version of "Odal", it's even harder to understand. There's nothing of the beautiful song "Odal" we listened in "The Mantle". Simply a droning mixture of pointless and useless synths, with a minimalistic atmosphere. Minimalism could be interesting, if well done, but i'm sorry to say that this is really stupid.
Agalloch, what have you done with this release? I know you could have done much better. You proved it releasing "The White", a real and beautiful Ep. But this is nothing of interesting. Only for the most strenous fans of this fantastic band, which made a real mistake publishing "The Grey".
The main problem with this EP is that it’s just a completely pointless release really. There are only two songs on here, both of which are remakes of tracks from The Mantle, and the overall feeling of the two songs is that they’re just pointless remakes.
The first track is a remake of “The Lodge”, and it runs about three times longer than the original version of the song. The problem with the song is that it’s just overlong, the song will drag on and no go anywhere for about three minutes, then change pace into something different for another three minutes, and the last four minutes of the song are nothing but some distorted screeches on the guitar, and it’s more annoying than anything really.
If you listened to the screeching guitars on the first track and you thought that was annoying, then you will hate the next track. There’s a reason as to why they call this one the nothing remix, it’s because it sounds like nothing. The song is basically what happens when you take the guitars, drums, or everything out of the original song of “Odal”. The only real sound I can actually describe is two minutes into the song. It sounds like a very weak keyboard note might be getting played. This track I guess is supposed to be a dark ambient piece of something like that, only it doesn’t sound like ambient. It has some sort of dark feel to it, but maybe that’s because it’s an annoying remake.
If you were to describe these two remakes in one word that word would be worthless. There isn’t really any good reason to get this EP. If you want to get the tracks in their better and original forms get The Mantle. Don’t bother with The Grey.
I can't see where all this hate is coming from. I love this EP. Well, sorta...
The first track, The Lodge (Dismantled) is essentially, as the user below me has posted, is a fusion of Drone/Post Rock that is, at least in my perspective, a very melodic, and dare I type it, SOOTHING piece of music. There are a few very, very subtle similarities to the original, but for the most part, it's an original, separate song all on its own. Overall, it catches a lot of Agalloch's dark, ambient and melancholic sound perfectly.
I'm not a big fan of Drone, in all honesty, and the slow, repetitive, nauseating wave of sound known as Odal (Nothing Remix) is exactly that. And then the 1:50 mark kicks on and the light synth comes in and it flows wonderfully up until the 4:07 mark, and some creepy ass sounding shit comes in and stays there with a few harsh notes hit on the piano around the 5-7 minute mark hit here and there. It's more akin to trance than anything metallic, in my oh so humble opinion. Still, as I've said about track #1, it does succeed at capturing this great, epic feeling of what is, in essence, Agalloch.
Now, I did dock off 5 points in consideration for some folks who think two "remixes" make a bullshit release and so on and so forth, but I'm afraid I can't give it anything lower than that, especially considering how amazing The Lodge (Dismantled) is.
I have seen the massive amounts of negative reviews not only on this site, but also on other websites that have posted reviews of this masterpiece of an EP. Now I can see where individuals are going at, but as I will say here, and on numerous other reviews of untraditional albums released by a group whom people have typecast to a single genre/style, look beyond the initial spectrum of what the band has done in the past. Look at the album for what is there, and not what once was.
This release is obviously not a metal release... not really in the foggiest. It is drone-infused-post-metal experience. It combines remnants of their older releases, but only remnants as this is meant to transpire and fuse together into a brilliant metamorphosis of divine ritualistic music.
The first track, a remix of the song The Lodge, is a doom-infused post-metal/post-rock song with some folk infusion. It is untraditional, as it has some drone-light atmosphere, with a brooding feel as it pushes the 13-minute mark, and many of the sounds are repetitive and long going. It bears resemblance to the original song, but only in passing, as I find it more of a separate song on it's own.
The second song is another remix, this time of the song Odal. Bearing no resemblance to the original, this pure drone song provides a brooding atmosphere that rages in strength and power in a subliminal sort of way, providing a wondrous listen.
This is definitely not for those who hate slow music, but if you hate slow music why are you listening to Agalloch? Flat out amazing EP.
Agalloch's "The Mantle" is a brilliant release, steeped in early Ulver-ish acoustic black metal and awash with utterly moving melodies. For more enthusiasm for that release, check the reviews on this site.
I find it a bit odd that the reviews on this EP are so mixed. Given the truly powerful and moving experience that was The Mantle, I am surprised that there are as many positive reactions to The Grey as there are. When trying to think of how to describe this EP, I'd like to be highbrow and journalistic, but the phrase "total fucking bullshit" just keeps springing to mind. Hey, I'm open minded. I listen to Rhapsody when noone's looking. But random, formless noise? What's the point? At least the aforementioned Ulver's "Silence" EPs had some captivating, trance-like qualities that make them listenable. Just when something sounds like it might be interesting on The Grey, it slithers away back into the murky depths of empty, white noise.
Altogether, when I open up my "A" drawer and start thumbing through CDs, I just sort of pretend this one isn't there. I don't have the heart to actually toss a CD from the creaters of "Pale Folkore" et al, but I really can't imagine ever listening to this again. Give it a pass and go get something, anything else by Agalloch instead.
I didn't buy this EP because I'd heard it was good. Hey, I'd heard it was terrible! It was relatively cheap to the other copies I'd seen flying around, so I decided to go for it. I popped the cd in, and immediately knew why this cd is named "the grey": If colours would be applied to the song, they would all be shades of-- you guessed it-- grey.
"The Lodge [Dismantled]" is not a patient listen... For most. I personally love the distorted, ambient atmosphere of this song. It's very much synthesiser-based, and has a very prominent rythm most of the way through. There's a distinct lack of progression most of the way through, which isn't actually always a bad thing. When the song does change, it is most definitely for the better, and the distortion sets in several fold. And it becomes very strange indeed when the unidentifiable voices (are they even voices?) set in about two minutes towards the song's end.
"Odal [Nothing Remix]" is a very difficult piece to review... It's packed with odd noises, and is frustrating to attempt to relax to. There is no percussion and no guitar. However, it becomes progressively more ambient, and is a great thing to fall asleep to.
One more thing: I haven't heard The Mantle yet, so I am not familiarised with the original version of The Lodge. Also, I have never heard anything by Nothing.
Perhaps this is why I enjoyed these "pointless, stupid experiments" so much.
I guess they heard Merzbow and decided to remake some of his earliest material by digitally fucking up their own. This EP is basically Agalloch distorting and messing with two tracks off of The Mantle. The result is something that no one would want to listen to, ever. This, friends, is coming from a Merzbow fan and a noise musician.
The remix of The Lodge is....ahem...different. It's very distorted and meandering, and it never ends. Ever. You've heard the Key to the Gates of the Apocalypse? It's like that, only even worse. Besides that, it doesn't even achieve what it wants to by being noise; even for a noise track it's boring. Oddly enough, it's the better song here.
The remix of Odal is just like the original, only completely different. There's some rumbling synths, some random clanging in the background, and maybe a guitar somewhere, but the original, it sure ain't. This is the more "noise-oriented" track, but that doesn't make it good. It isn't even a "remix" technically because it's so vastly different from the version on The Mantle.
I don't know what Agalloch was thinking, but if you want good Agalloch, get The Mantle. In addition, if you want good noise, get something by Merzbow (or Spica Regulus...). But leave this one alone.
Well I never thought I'd say it, what we have here is a basically terrible Agalloch release. Sure it's only an EP, and hopefully an experimental one at that, but it really shows the band moving into a far less exciting territory.
Track one consists of a pretty boring and almost endless version of the song The Lodge. This version is supposedly the one they play at shows, and it's more electric and far less enjoyable. As if the song wasn't butchered enough, the ending is about three minutes of guitar noise that no one in their right mind would want to hear. And so ends the good news...
Track two is far worse. A "remix" of the brilliant instrumental Odal. In this pathetic version, JJW from Nothing (also the bassit of Agalloch) decided to make rumbling noises on his keyboard for almost 8 minutes and call it a remix of Odal. Too bad it does not resemble the original song one bit and is a complete waste of time. This is not music folks, it's noise. Maybe that's the whole point...but in this case I don't get it nor do I care to.
Even though I did not like this release at all, I still have hope for the future of Agalloch and hope that this is only an experimentation. After all, it's only a two-song EP (and track two isn't even a real song or Agalloch) so I can't judge them too hard just yet.