Of Stone, Wind and Pillor: Agalloch

Rating: 75%

of_stone_wind_and_pillorIn 2001, Agalloch released their EP “Of Stone, Wind and Pillor. This album is a decent collection of folk and atmospheric hard rock that boarders Heavy Metal. It’s also a unique blend of electric and acoustic instrumentation and clean and dirty vocals. It does pull some influences from Black Metal or at least the first song,  “Of Stone, Wind and Pillor.”

The musicianship is pretty tight. John Haughm’s vocals, guitars, and drums sounds pretty good. He provides much tempo to the band. Don Anderson’s guitars are pretty decent. Bassist Jason William Walton and keyboardist Shane Breyer also does a fine job at their posts.

Song structures seem to be lacking a bit on “A Poem by Yeats.” But the first four tracks are great. The melodies of each song is different and presented in classic Agalloch way. There are some weird guitar parts and beats which holds my attention. The entire album features many different styles of music influences from Black Metal to acoustical folk music. If your looking into this band, I would go with another album instead of jumping right into this one.

Track listing:

  1. “Of Stone, Wind and Pillor”   6:59
  2. “Foliorum Viridium”   2:43
  3. “Haunting Birds”   3:45
  4. “Kneel to the Cross”   5:54
  5. “A Poem by Yeats”   8:39

Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes: Downfall of Gaia

Rating: 75%

dog_coverDownfall to Gaia is a very talented atmospheric metal band from Germany. Their second record “Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes” is what attracted me to the band. It’s a concept album that deals with one slowly going insane. This is a four piece band consisting of Anton Lisovoj on bass, the very talented Johannes Stoltenburg on drums, and the guitar work by Dominik Goncalves dos Reis and Peter Wolff.

The music itself is atmospheric, sludgy with some hardcore and black metal influences. I also hear a hint of Prog and some other experimental elements in the music structure itself. There is a lot of slower and heavy tempos in the song structure, but in other areas of the songs, there are a lot of faster and upbeat tempos. Many of the songs are long averaging between five to ten minutes in length.  The lyrics itself are in German, so you’ll have to get past the language barrier.

Production wise, I feel that this album could have been better. There are areas where the music drowns out the harsh vocals and rhythm guitar sections. There is also some background noise that contributes to that. Maybe this was part of the mixing process. There are a few leads in the final product, but they are mostly fillers. The bass lines I will say are not absent from this record. The bass works well with the fantastic drum lines. The drumming on this album, is remarkable. If there was a solo drum album, this is that album. The usages of offbeats and upbeats is what make this a good album. With that being said, I do feel that parts of this record repeat itself almost as if you hear it and think, well, I just heard that song.

Track listing:

  1. [Vulnus] 05:12
  2. Drowning by Wing Beats 08:08
  3. In the Rivers Bleak 08:07
  4. I Fade Away 10:05
  5. Beneath the Crown of Cranes 10:42
  6. Giving Their Heir to the Masses 09:35
  7. [Asphyxia] 05:47

Ashes Against The Grain: Agalloch

Rating: 90%

Ashes_Against_the_Grain.jpgAgalloch is a Atmospheric Folk/Doom Metal along the lines of border line Rock. This record, released in 2006 was the record that I started with. The music is slow, very melodic and yet, its soothing and almost perfect. Every beat, every strum of the strings and every key that is played, is played with perfection. Many of the tracks on this album are long coming in over the nine minute mark.

The first song “Limbs” starts in with the feedback of the guitar which is followed by the bass and drums. The vocalist comes in at the 5 minute mark. The vocals are creepy and yet, one can easily sing along, understanding every word. “Falling Snow” is my favorite on this record. The guitar again compliments the bass and drums. They are not drowning each other out. Again, the tempo and music is perfect and well defined. “Fire Above, Ice Below” starts out with the guitar, followed by drums that sounds as clear as crystal. The vocals are also clear as crystal.  “Not Unlike The Waves” follows the same trend. “Our Fortress Is Burning” is a three part song that has over 5 minutes of introduction that leads to part two. Part three is over 7 minutes of atmosphere which is why this rating didn’t hit 100%. But even that is part of the composer’s art.

Musically, this album is almost flawless. Would I recommend it? Hell Yeah! How would I compare this too? There isn’t a band out there that even comes close to the style of Agalloch.