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Monday, July 23, 2012

Agalloch - Faustian Echoes EP (2012)

Band: Agalloch
Country: Portland, Oregon
Style: Atmospheric Black Metal
Label: Dammerung Arts

Well I guess it was as much of a welcome surprise to me as to everyone else when the men in Agalloch decided to release a new piece of music so soon after 2010's critically acclaimed Marrow of The Spirit. I mean, expectations for any new material from Agalloch are high so it's sort of hard to expect anything bad coming from them. All you can do when approaching new material is come in with an open mind and hope for the best.
It may sound a bit odd to say this but this track comes off as being perhaps the most "progressive" the band has ever produced. While it's still pretty far away from any form of guitar wankery, the various ideas that cycle through this one track show the band at their most varied, from blasting black metal to cold acoustic folk passages and krautrock interludes. Not that the band are strangers to making long, winding pieces or anything, but writing a song that tops twenty minutes and make it interesting throughout is a challenge (I don't even find Opeth's Black Rose Immortal to be that interesting and I love that band) but there wasn't a single point during this track that I ever found myself bored or thinking of other songs the band had written before. The band are just masters of dynamics, shifting fluidly and effortlessly from one section to the next without so much as even touching wrong footing. Along with that, this is also another example of the band pulling off their material live, because this is a pretty raw sounding recording, and correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the band say that they recorded this straight through? If they did, props to them because this thing moves so naturally it isn't even funny (though I did laugh at how amazing the track is during the various times I listened to this). I love how the bass is so clear and warm sounding on here as well, it's probably one of the best bass tones I've heard on a record this year, but that's just me being picky. It's near flawless and is another crowning achievement in the band's diamond studded list of albums.
It's great, not that I expecting anything less than that from the band. If you haven't already checked this out, please do so, Agalloch are easily one of the most consistent and impressive bands to have emerged from the black metal scene and you are seriously missing out if you have not heard them yet. This is a great place to start if you haven't heard of them yet though.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Faustian Echoes

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