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Letdown of the Year - 30%

hailmarduk666, March 16th, 2011

Well, I definitely thought I would be saving this particular review for Dornenreich. I didn't think they would do better than BIZTZD, but I was wrong. Instead, it's Agalloch receiving this unfavorable review. I am quite a fan, having all their albums, spent an ungodly amount of money on The White EP, so I was extremely excited to hear they were releasing a new album. Much to my chagrin, it was anything but a highlight of the musical year for me.

The first thing that really struck me is the extremely boring introduction. A very cliche bubbling brook in the background of a long, drawn out piece of cello work is not the way to grasp a listener's attention, in my opinion. I would rather this piece be at the back, as a nice and unwinding melody after the melancholic black/dark/folk hybrid that this band is known for. Instead this is chosen to open the record, and is a harbinger of boredom and strained faux emotion that is contained in the rest of this overbloated monstrosity.

There are two parts to this album that annoy me, and stand out as very forced. The first is the drumwork. The second is the guitar. Decker is two tiers below the drummer this band used to have. He always seems to be just a little bit behind in his blasting, and it seems extremely forced. Throughout the album, especially the last minute of Into the Painted Grey, I feel like he loses his tempo, and I believe he even hits his snare and bass drum at the same time. Throughout the rest of the album, he sounds just a step behind the rhythms of guitar, which is pretty damn hard. This is a perfect segway into how sophomoric the riffs in this album are. They are regurgitated, and recycled, and I have heard every riff this album has to offer before. For instance, Fire Above, Ice Below from their Ashes Against The Grain album have the same chord progressions as The Watcher's Monolith on the Marrow of the Spirit, as well as the same vocal patterns (a higher and lower stacked singing technique). Even still, there are no good tremolos, or meandering riffs that compliment each other in opposite directions on different octaves as they had in previous albums like Pale Folklore...

There is also a lot of filler in this album. The first song is a good example. At the end of The Watcher's Monolith, for the last minute there is a boring piano melody, accompanied by some rediculous crickets and "woods sounds"... Well, sorry guys, but the cover of the album is a bleak winter landscape. If one spends any time in the woods at that time of year, you won't find any bugs and creepy crawlies to be sure. The end of one begins the next, and Black Lake Nidstang plods along for over 4 minutes before any music actually starts. Alas, due to Decker's piss-poor drumming, the guitars keep sounding like they want to pick up the pace, and Aesop won't let them; leading to a 17 minute long song that will put even a meth-head to sleep.

Overall I am quite pissed off by Agalloch's apparent lack of faith in their listener's intelligence. Perhaps a ho-hum fan who doesn't listen to their discography without listening to anything else would take this album and be happy. I, however, feel offended that they would toss this off on their fans and be proud with the result. In fact, I would rather listen to Fen, because despite the fact that they are a plagiaristic clone of Agalloch, even their music sounds fresh and has even the smallest semblance of emotion in it. FUCK, I was so looking forward to hearing their new work because it's been 4 years, but this steaming pile of horseshit is all I get in return.