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Metal album of 2010? - 98%

ProjectDissection, January 1st, 2011

Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
Profound Lore Records - November 2010
By Jason Wick

By this day and age we’re used to the presence of acts in metal using strong atmosphere within their otherwise ‘heavy’ craft in order to amplify feelings they wish to convey. We can largely thank exploration within Black Metal, Folk, and Progressive acts for it reaching the point it has within the last decade. One of the bigger players in this ‘Dark Metal’ genre has been Agalloch.

Since the bands first release From Which Of This Oak, Agalloch has effectively been infusing sonic and organic elements in their music to create ambient, expansive music that can fully grip the listener with emotion. In their 2010 release Marrow of the Spirit we witness an evolved, fine tuned venture into similarly distraught terrain. While this album holds onto an undeniable musical signature long forged by these Portland Oregon natives, it also stands as its own separate entity.

On this album we’re treated to a more aggressive approach to the Agalloch formula. Clean vocals are mostly kept to whispers, and acoustics are sparser than in previous releases, their presence in Marrow of the Spirit is largely that of support to the overall sound, opposed to having their own segments. Perhaps the most noticeable portion of the sound that has changed in this manner however is the percussion. The drums on this release brilliantly push the songs forward adding extra heft to transitions and highlighting the pinnacles in a variety of tracks.

With this new found bout of aggression, one may find my next statement odd; I believe this to be the most atmospherically charged release this group has offered us to date. Every moment intertwines beautifully with the next, etching a tale into the listener with the instruments alone. While each instrument in every passage of the album is performed with elegance and precision, Marrow of the Spirit is a prime example of how each and every role involved in a piece of music must work together towards an overall sound-scape in order to touch someone on the deepest level possible.

This record embraces such ideals fully, and in doing so it engulfs all who open themselves to it. Tension is built many times over in this release, and every single time Agalloch capitalizes on these feelings, shattering these passages unto new found paths. From the foreboding tones of Black Lake Nidstång standing nearly unmatched, to the stark portrait of To Drown, and the fierce struggle of Into The Painted Grey one can truly label Marrow of the Spirit as an experience, instead of merely an album.

- Originally posted by myself on Ultimate Metal. -