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It Lost Some Points Cause it had a Hotwheel On It - 90%

serial_killer_miller, December 6th, 2010

I guess you could say I came across Agalloch later rather than sooner. Considering the fact that I heard Ashes Against the Grain in 2009. that not withstanding, I was immediately drawn by the complexity of the music and the elegance with which the band blended the genres of black and folk metal. It also didn't hurt that I was able to get the album from a used CD store for $5.00. I will admit that my wait for a new Agalloch album was not as long as most. However; I was anxious to see what they would offer as a follow up. Enter: Marrow of the Spirit. If this review was solely based on the album title I would have given 100 %. After all the oxymoron of a spirit having bone marrow is worth a chuckle! It also has to be the most original album title of 2010 by a mile!

Also seeing that Decibel Magazine had this album rated as the top metal release of 2010 gave me all the more reason to give this album a spin. First, I would like to state that for the most part I agree with them. The sound of flowing water and a haunting violin provides a surreal backdrop for how the experience of listening to the album is going to be for the listener and that is just plain brilliant!

While making my way through the album I did notice one striking difference between this album and Ashes Against the Grain, which was the aggression on Marrow of the Spirit. The songs sound faster and the vocals lean more towards the black metal side of Agalloch as opposed to the folk. However; they do add in some excellent clean folk metal vocals in a few of the songs as well, so listeners expecting that do not be afraid to give this album a fair chance.

There are also many instances where clean and acoustic guitars are used and I feel that they do a great job accenting the heavier riffs and adding to the atmosphere of the record. Couple that with some driving drumming and you have yourself some nicely crafted songs.

Now there are two aspects of this album that I feel drag it down a little: The first is that the production takes away from the listening experience. In some of the songs it appears that the instruments overpower the vocals, taking away from the songs. Also, the guitars seem to overpower the drums at points on the album as well. It would not hurt to add some clean bass lines in some of the songs to give it a little more substance.

The second issue I have is with the length of the songs. There is nothing wrong with having songs that exceed 10 minutes, but some of the riffs seem to over do it a little. After all this is not a funeral doom record. I feel that this album is worthy of a lot of praise however; there are some areas that Agalloch can improve upon. However; this just makes me anticipate the next offering from Agalloch because I am sure it will impress!