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Agalloch Make an Excellent Neofolk Band - 89%

Thumbman, January 29th, 2017

Smaller Agalloch releases can be a real mixed bag. You have album leftovers, 20 minute songs, neofolk releases; some are gleaming triumphs and some are lackluster experiments. "Where Shade Once Was" would fall into the triumph category, and is easily one of the best neofolk songs Agalloch have ever done.

This is an interesting single because rather than just coming out of the blue, it is very much a companion piece to what they were doing on Marrow of the Spirit. The beautiful bittersweet twelve string guitar line is taken from "Into the Painted Grey", which is easily one of the best songs in Agalloch's discography. Giant Squid's (who are now defunct - but Aaron is now in a band with the majority of the Agalloch dudes!) ever-talented Jackie Perez Gratz played some awesome guest cello on Marrow of the Spirit and her twisting strings resonate here and lock into a twisting dance with the twelve string. John's vocals are mainly a background aspect of the song and walk the line between singing and narration. They are not the main point of the song, but they fit the instrumentation and don't get in the way (can you imagine how awful it would be if he did his dreadful whisper-rasp thing here?).

Neofolk has always been a strong point for Agalloch, and I think if they had explored it more on The Serpent and the Sphere rather than just retreaded on ideas from past albums, it would have been a lot better. Heh, we'll always have The White EP at the very least. "Where Shade Once Was" is a really cool song and easily one of the best singles Agalloch have released. If you're a fan of The White, there's no reason this won't be to your liking.