Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.
Agalloch: Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore, 11/23/10)
Agalloch: “The Watcher’s Monolith”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/03.-The-Watchers-Monolith.mp3|titles=Agalloch – The Watcher’s Monolith]
Although Agalloch dons its album covers with images of winter and writes songs featuring tremolo-picked minor chords and shrieked vocals, the Portland quartet is best understood as a heavy progressive-rock band rather than a black-metal band.
Since the late 1990s, the group has released purposefully genre-blending music with a somber, melodic bent. Marrow of the Spirit, just the band’s fourth full-length album, must be compared to the work of black-metal-gone-experimental artists like Ulver and Enslaved, but a better reference point is the work of ’70s prog-rock bands like Comus. Songs are sprawling layers of riffs that meander between different themes and styles, touching on blast beats, acoustic breaks, and atmospheric post-rock passages.