It was a cold and unpleasant afternoon as I left the used CD store. The sky was grey and I prepared myself for the journey home. As I put on my hat and opened the door to leave the store, I turned on my CD player and zipped up my coat. Although I was feeling eager to get home, and out from the cold, something strange happened at that moment. As the music began flowing through my headphones, and the opening chords immediately surrounded me in their dark, melancholy atmosphere, I was suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to go for a long walk. As I reached into my coat and increased the volume, I began observing the people around me as they went along with their daily comings and goings. As I continued on my march, still observing the life that surrounded me, the sombre mood of the music continued to accompany me along my way. The sky remained bleak, and the air cold as the afternoon wore on...
If you can create a mental image of the scene that I have just described, then you already have I clear idea of what AGALLOCH's newest release "The Mantle" sounds like. Having read many positive reviews regarding this group from the bleak landscapes of Oregon, I was very curious to hear them for myself. While I had heard a few songs prior to purchasing this release, nothing could quite prepare me for the dark, depressive nature of AGALLOCH's music. The inescapable atmosphere of this collection of songs is truly breathtaking. The emphasis on acoustics contribute greatly to this emotional masterwork. Though the songs remain in the slow, to mid-tempo range, it never becomes a problem, as fast drumming and sweeping riffs would seem out of place on "The Mantle". While the use of repetition throughout this album may be seen as boring, I feel that it helps to add to the overall sense of longing and foreboding expressed by the musicians. Like a flowing river, each track joins together seamlessly, giving the listener a true sense of appreciation for "The Mantle"'s complete nature. While all songs work together to make this album the achievement that it is, look no further than the fourteen minute epic "In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion" to truly experience AGALLOCH's greatness. While Metalheads looking for a place to bang their heads may be turned away by AGALLOCH's calmness, this album will easily appeal to any looking for an original, yet challenging musical experience that will reveal its beauty over time. AGALLOCH have managed to create an album worthy of the attention of any music fan, which is why "The Mantle" deserves to be perceived as a great musical achievement.
...As I finally reached the end of my street, the final awe-inspiring note resounded from my CD player, only to be replaced by silence. In awe, I attempted to grasp what I had just experienced, but failed to successfully do so. My journey had come to its end as I entered my house, feeling welcomed by its warmth. The air was still cold, and the sky still grey as I took one final look outside. Emotionally drained, I shut the door. (Online June 3, 2003)