Sunday, 19 August 2012

Faustian Echoes

Artist: Agalloch
Album: Faustian Echoes
Release Date: 26/6/2012

Agalloch's conceptual new EP is an epic odyssey that explores emotion, melody and darkness in equal, spellbinding measure

It is folly to suggest that there is a dearth of original and innovative ventures going on in metal music at the moment, and especially, in Black Metal. Purists will always find ways to scorn those who manipulate the original grounds of Black Metal into something new (Liturgy should know that better than anyone), but Black Metal is no longer a genre for the purists. Sunn0))) and been twisting it into their own experimental yet still down- right nasty left field vision for well over a decade now, and both Liturgy and Wolves In The The Throne room proved that there is plenty of room for melodicism and various meandering, interwoven incorporations spanning across a wide range of genres with two of the finest metal albums to be released last year.

Agalloch are certainly not ignorant to the power and space which modern Black Metal has been free to roam, and that's something that if it wasn't recognizable before is certainly recognizable on their new EP, "Faustian Echoes." Based on Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe's epic occult masterpiece "Faust", the record is a single, 21- minute long odyssey that explores all the recesses that Agalloch have always found time for in their Black Metal/ Neo- folk hybrid. Those things being melody, harshness, bleakness, acoustic interludes, blast beats, tremolo picking and wretched vocals, all of which find themselves in abundance here. There are wild changes in direction and atmosphere regularly, something which Agalloch manage to pull off without a hint of a slipping up or miscalculation. The EP is almost always in touch with the emotional side as well, whether they be furiously pounding and picking away on bleak, down- tuned and mournful riffs or gorgeous, eye- twinkling harmonizing or epic walls of dense distortion. All the melodies encompassed here stir something within, and it's that breadth and span that make Agalloch such a compelling composition, exercised with full heart here.

They aren't doing anything against their own self- styled (if reliant mold), but Agalloch have proven that they don't really need to. They've achieved epic pieces of sizable proportions before, but "Faustian Echoes" is the longest song they've ever written, and to manage to keep it vital, emotional and enduringly sky- reaching throughout is a feat that should not be undermined. All of it comes to a head on a pretty acoustic interlude as a cut from Faustus line in a production of "Faust" intones "then man is only air as well." It's not rare for music to make you feel that way, but the colossal "Faustian Echoes" certainly makes you feel deservedly small in its presence.


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