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Traditional excellence - 93%

Axonn, May 6th, 2006

As I write this, I'm sailing through "The Mantle" for yet another time. I listened to this LP countless times and I will continue to do so for many more times, that's for sure. Is this enough to tell you that it's a music worth buying? It wouldn't be enough for me. So I'll go ahead and continue to explain exactly why it is.

"Pale Folklore" was ok. I liked it especially for the wonderfull "She Painted Fire Across The Skyline". But this album really tops everything. It's a real masterpiece of guitar instrumentals.

For me, Agalloch is the absolute best Metal band ever in terms of guitar and traditional instruments. Agalloch really learned to do an excellent composition without using modern synths or keyboards. They used all sorts of innovations in Metal which you can hear all the way during "The Mantle". The album is interestingly layered, switching from instrumental songs to songs with vocals. Except the last two songs which both feature vocals, after each instrumental song you will find a vocals song. The instrumentals-only are: Celebration For The Death Of Man, Odal, The Lodge and The Hawthorne Passage. I wouldn't have expected such a sound to hail from the U.S.A. but alas, it does and by no means is this something bad.

Last but not least, another reason for which this album is a masterpiece is because it actually has a melody which is an amazingly almost 15 minutes long and it doesn't bore you. These guys are really good in composition and this is a well structured and well built album. Moody and depressing at times, inspiring at other times, but yet always in the same tone and spirit. A record with a rare unity and quality. The vocals aren't something to wonder at, but 1. they do the job excellently and 2. they're original enough not to be cliche. "The Mantle" makes me hope that Agalloch will continue their career, 'cause they make some really excellent music, I assure you.