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Utterly Magnificent - 100%

TimJohns, December 15th, 2014

There are only a handful of albums that are as well-rounded, masterful, accomplished and perfected in it's own style as Agalloch's "The Mantle". This is a very special and unique masterpiece that takes the listener on a sonic experience through the beauty, tranquility, fragility and harmony of nature. The entire vibe of this album feels like the transition from autumn to winter, with some of the tracks that feel like walking alone through a completely silent landscape covered with snow, where one is discovering the true essence and spirit of nature. The depth of this diverse and vivid sounding instrumentation along with the deep and powerful songwriting brought together makes "The Mantle" sounds evermore jarring and sensational.

The epic twelve minute track "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion" is absolutely exquisite that reeks of beauty with gorgeous textures of sound. The emphasis of the acoustic guitar playing along with other classical instruments shows Agalloch at the peak of their creativity. The mellowness of "The Mantle" compared to their previous superb release "Pale Folkore" not only portrays Agalloch as perhaps their best but shows how they are experimenting further in their unique style. Along with their vast range and unique blend of influences, Agalloch are able to mix a harsher, unrefined sound at times with an elegant and majestic sound that feels absolutely transcendental and soars with uplifting emotions.

Another highlight track would have to be "Odal" and is definitely one of the most impressive instrumentals I have ever heard. This track in particular has a very thematic, theatrical and triumphant approach to it. Also many tracks on "The Mantle" with those characteristics would be perfect to have as movie soundtracks especially tracks such as "The Lodge" and "The Hawthrone Passage". Another aspect of Agalloch's sound that I particularly found to be outstanding was how they were able to make the scratchy and rough vocals sound both melodic and accurate while going along very well with the rest of the music.

As a concluding statement, "The Mantle" will always be known for being a memorable, superb, deep and downright powerful album. There are many impressive aspects about Agalloch whether it's how they blend so thoroughly and perfectly the unique art of both their music and homeland in the Pacific Northwest or how they are able to execute their musical vision so incredibly well. With all of these elements put together, it is quite clear that Agalloch have put together quite the unique masterpiece and to this day is an album that is strongly recognized for it's sheer brilliance and outstanding musicianship.