Loudwire.com 2002 Metal Album Of The Year—-Agalloch / The Mantle

The Mantle

Agalloch was an American metal band formed in 1995 in Portland, Oregon, led by vocalist/guitarist/drummer John Haughm. They released five full-length albums, four EPs, two singles, one split single, two demos, four compilation albums and one live video album. They announced their disbandment in May 2016.

The Mantle is the second album by American metal band Agalloch. The album was released on August 13, 2002 by The End Records.

The Analysis—-

Celebration For The Death Of Man—-Surprisingly gentle and serene at the onset, this has the feel of a movie soundtrack to the opening strains. The guitar is intricate and ushers in an underlying darkness that seems to build around your head as the track progresses. It melds magically into…..

In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion—-The strains of the previous track continue as the song begins….interspersed with bright spots of guitars and an emerging drum line. This truly does play like the soundtrack to an epic dark movie. There is a definite folk sound to the music. I keep waiting for something and then it is there….the evil beguiled vocal that sounds whispered in a Lord Of the Rings style evil and darkness….interspersed with a melodic somewhat clean vocal. Really nice.

Odal—-If there is a complaint to be found with this band, it is perhaps the one speed nature of the music. there is often no variance to the very long compositions that seem to drudge on and on. This track has a bit more life…thanks to some spacey guitars that leave you almost nodding off as the go on and on. This is music really built for true modern day stoners that need little or no hype to their music. This is epic and movie ready.

I Am The Wooden Doors—-Finally there is some real breath laid to this record as the guitars and drums magically come alive and give you something you have been dying for since this all began….some noise and formulation to the dread. This has a really nice sound to it….and the vocal is ghastly and filled with the type of mystery that really gets me going. I love the entire make=up of this track,,,finally I have something a bit heavier to sink my teeth into. There are nice melodic interludes that break up the song and give it a certain beauty before you are swept back down in the moody darkness…..nice!

The Lodge—-Just as quickly, I find myself walking on a snow packed movie set filled with the pretty guitars and atmospheric delivery that has propelled this release thus far. Although the guitars are clearer and filled with a bit more structure, this all sounds like one long movie with no picture.

You Were But A Ghost In My Arms—-We continue on and I am pleased with the very large feel of this track from the onset…the power dies away for an acoustic sound….but the underlying hum returns and you have  in my opinion the best track on this release. The vocal is outstanding…the music gives just the right amount of variance and the drums are incredible….I really like this. Cold….dark and just a tad bit evil. Stellar!

The Hawthorn Passage—-This, at the onset is another great song…there is a guitar progression that plays and seems to steer the song along…while the bass line keeps a steady generic pace. The drums are great again…I like the melody line….there is real substance here…..the song has a wispy feel that sounds nothing like the first half of this record. This is fantastic….I have no complaints here….even if the song is repetitive….the feel of the music keeps it moving along. I love this! Such a great song!!!!

….And The Great Cold Death Of The Earth—-seeming to pick up musically from the previous track, the music is so much fuller and full of atmosphere. The vocal emerges….clean and full of an edge that inspires urgency and a slight sadness. The feel of the song is so huge….and full of an ambiance you would not expect from a recording such as this. This latter half of the record is truly ground breaking…..

A Desolation Song—-Ending the release with the same intricate beauty that it began with, the sound is much more in line with the latter half of the recording. There is a bleakness and feeling of hopelessness as this all comes to a close. It is starkly beautiful and full of waves of emotional music. This is really fantastic.

**** out of 5

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