Agalloch - The Mantle review

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Band: Agalloch
Album: The Mantle
Release date: August 2002

01. A Celebration For The Death Of Man...
02. In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion
03. Odal
04. I Am The Wooden Doors
05. The Lodge
06. You Were But A Ghost In My Arms
07. The Hawthorne Passage
08. ...And The Great Cold Death Of The Earth
09. A Desolation Song

In the true musical lineage of Opeth and Katatonia, Agalloch is one of these mystic and melancholic bands, excelling at playing a smart blend of Doom Metal and few elements from Melodic Death Metal, such as the voice a la Dark Tranquillity. Established as one of the best combos in their style and one of America's most interesting bands, Agalloch was founded in Portland, Oregon in late 1995. After a couple of demos, they scored a deal with The End Records in 1998 and their debut album Pale Folklore was released in 1999. In 2001, a limited MCD entitled Of Stone, Wind and Pillor was released and they then worked on today's chapter, their second full-length album, The Mantle. Agalloch is composed by John Haughm [vocals, guitars, drums], Don Anderson [guitars] and Jason William Walton [bass].

Let's get to the main idea: The Mantle is a 70 minute long masterpiece. Supra-melancholic, beautiful melodies all along, only a few bands managed to imprint this decaying hope in my mind before, propelling Agalloch to the status of geniuses of longing. The omnipresence of acoustic guitars generates an handful of desperate feelings throughout the songs and the intro called 'A Celebration For The Death Of Man…' is actually a beautiful recurring theme [In 'In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion', 'The Lodge' and 'And The Great Cold Death Of The Earth']. These two elements transcend The Mantle.

After introducing the theme, the epic 'In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion' is on the menu. It's beautifully done and it's one of these pieces that gets better and better every time you listen to it. Slow acoustic guitars doubled by sad electric guitar lines make this song a pure jewel. A terrific break occurs after 6 minutes into the song, and then, it gets even better! Just for that track, it's worth buying the album. You know like for Opeth's Blackwater Park. Most of the time, you're led to imagine things while listening to music, with Agalloch, you don't have to as they did it for you; and suddenly it rains in your mind.

'Odal' is an instrumental track, undeniably heavier and less gloomy. Nevertheless, it remains stunning. It serves as a good break on the album before the incredible 'I Am The Wooden Doors'. This one is another masterpiece, dark, though faster than track number 2. Here the wide use of acoustic guitars gives a terrific folk feeling to the song. The different voices of John Haughm [clean, death, black] transforms the track into a must-listen.

Another instrumental piece, 'The Lodge', follows 'I Am The Wooden Doors'. It's apparently a reprise of the opening theme, adding another degree of bleakness to The Mantle. 'You Were But A Ghost In My Arms' is full of variations and it sounds like another "coup de maitre" to me!

'The Hawthorne Passage' is another epic instrumental track [more than 11 minutes] and once again these majestic acoustic guitar lines enchant the listener and drive him towards despair. Black is beautiful, indeed. Some of guitar work sound like Pink Floyd, when I told you that Agalloch were geniuses, remember? The song fades away after 6 minutes or so to reappear morphed into a beautiful butterfly of melancholy.

'…And The Great Cold Death Of The Earth' could be considered as the ballad of the album. It's a remarkable song once again and all the previously pinpointed elements of Agalloch's music are there. That is simply breathtaking.

The Mantle is concluded by 'A Desolation Song', which achieves to mesmerize the listener, even after all the other songs. It's an outro in which an accordion helps the acoustic guitars. Once the track finished, the only thing you want to do is play the album over again and again.

People, what is wrong with you? The Mantle should be selling like bread, number one on the US charts. And for a good reason, it's a mind blowing album, from beginning to end, a painting of despair, a bleak view of a sad world, an outstanding piece of art at your fingertips. There is no way out, you got to have this album and then admire Agalloch. And you can count on them for the future, as a new EP surfaced in May 2004.


Written on 03.06.2004 by Bringing you reviews of quality music and interesting questions such as:

"A picture is worth a thousand words. How many words is a song worth?"

I have only got so much patience and skills, you do the math.

Guest review by
Agalloch are a band that I have only recently started listening to, but they are the first band in a long time that I have fallen in love with instantly. Most of my favourites have grown on me overtime but there was something about The Mantle that captured me immediately.

I tend to listen to cleaner vocal songs, although there are death metal bands I like, but I thought I would be put off by Haughm's raspy blackened vocals. Instead I found them really beautiful the way they weave in and out of the music. That was the thing that struck me most about Agalloch: the beauty of it. The general formula seems to be power chords on electric guitar with gentle twangy acoustic melodies over the top. This works really nicely and the juxtaposition of the heavy and the soft is mirrored when Haugm's vocals become more tuneful. The first time this occurs is in "In The Shadow of Our Pale Companion"-the magnum opus of the album and Agalloch's best along with "Not Unlike the Waves" four years later. The rasps and whispers build up to an epic sounding tuneful cry which gives me shivers every time. The vocals then vary between these two styles, as well as monotone almost talking and whispers through the rest of the album, in a very fluid way. There is no clean verse to harsh verse pattern; it all blends into each other.

published 30.01.2014 | Comments (23)


Comments: 20   Visited by: 507 users
01.07.2007 - 21:41
One of the best albums ever...just listen to it on a rainy day-simply unbelievable
Don't turn away just take my hand and when you make your final stand i ll be right there i ll never leave all i ask of you is believe...
19.12.2007 - 21:01
Lord Hypnos
Great album, and I agree, this album should be listened to on a gloomy, rainy day; it really creates a great atmosphere.
15.01.2008 - 04:18
Well maybe, I don't expect that every album should bring or do something special than others to catch someone's attention, maybe its slowness make it just unique and interesting
And sometimes I despair
At who I've become
I have to come to terms
With what I've done
10.03.2008 - 21:42
Unasuming Madnes
This album is VERY much on the mellow side yet theres just something so refreshing and expressive about this album. Really amazing stuff. 10/10
23.07.2008 - 18:33
Account deleted
one of a kind !!!! loved the acoustic guitar throughout the album
01.10.2008 - 14:53
perfect album 9.5
08.02.2009 - 22:32
I got this CD a long time ago, but never really got into it.
Just recently started listening to it again, and it just totally grabs me. Fantastic album, great review!
13.02.2009 - 23:19
Red Nightmare
Dunno why, this is the album by them I like less...but still it's fucking genius, I'd say 8/10
IntoPlighT said: "Slipknot is 15 years old how the fuck is that Nu metal?"

19.05.2009 - 19:39
The Mantle is a piece of musical history to me. With this CD, Agalloch were first entroduced to Germany via grau (I still worship them for this); and '...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth' (which was on a magazine sampler, Legacy) alone made me buy all albums before at the same time.
'In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion' is one of those all-timers, the kind of track which you listen to over years and never gets boring. The Mantle is a unique album, and it made me love Agalloch (back then Ashes... wasn't published yet, of course, those two albums are metal history).
But comparing Haughm's voice to Dark Tranquillity is a weak comparison. Haughm first of all is unique speaking of both his clean and growling voice, and his growls alone are well... a bit off DT's mark.
Comparisons to Opeth and Katatonia were the standard tone of reviews back then. They are not unjustified, but they should point out the differences, especially to Katatonia. And Opeth... Opeth play more with disharmonic tone combinations, Agalloch don't - though the moods are indeed very comparable.
Fashion is the uniform of civilians.
-- Werner Mitsch
24.07.2009 - 08:41
Heaven Knight
Trully a masterpiece by Agalloch
So behold the flight of the sapphire dragon
soaring through the skies once again

19.11.2009 - 05:10
Definitely agree. Not quite a perfect album, but very, very close.
19.11.2009 - 11:08
proofread free
It took me a while to love this album but now it is my favorite from them
maybe the originality was the thing that made me want to hear it again Agalloch always keep it original and refreshing
He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across the abyss
is not bold enough
to stare into it himself.
19.11.2009 - 18:15
Mormon Storm
Written by Powerslavex on 01.10.2008 at 14:53

perfect album 9.5

I agree with the first clause of this statement. But if something is perfect, it merits a 10. One of the greatest albums of all time. I like "Ashes" even more, as it is a true continuation of Bergtatt.
20.11.2009 - 15:24
Written by Konrad on 19.11.2009 at 18:15

Written by Powerslavex on 01.10.2008 at 14:53

perfect album 9.5

I agree with the first clause of this statement. But if something is perfect, it merits a 10. One of the greatest albums of all time. I like "Ashes" even more, as it is a true continuation of Bergtatt.

i guess it falls short of a 10 maybe because im not really into the song (I Am The Wooden Doors) IMO
19.12.2009 - 14:36
Great review ... i really some times catch myself comparing them to opeth and draconian ,, and they are like opeth in the changing rhymes alog the songs and acoustic parts,,,but still every band of them have there style.
23.12.2009 - 10:23
Liver Failure
Written by Powerslavex on 20.11.2009 at 15:24

Written by Konrad on 19.11.2009 at 18:15

Written by Powerslavex on 01.10.2008 at 14:53

perfect album 9.5

I agree with the first clause of this statement. But if something is perfect, it merits a 10. One of the greatest albums of all time. I like "Ashes" even more, as it is a true continuation of Bergtatt.

i guess it falls short of a 10 maybe because im not really into the song (I Am The Wooden Doors) IMO

Masterpiece to me as well The song im not very into is ''You were but a ghost in my arms''... the less atmospheric of the album.

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
24.05.2011 - 03:20
Account deleted
19.06.2011 - 12:57
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
Keeps getting better with each listen. It really does stand as a great work of music.
The sun shines over The Fool...
29.10.2011 - 21:07
I've been listening to this album for years, and every time I fall deeper & deeper into it's haunting trance. I only listen to it in late Fall/early Winter, mind's the only time you can truly appreciate the intense atmosphere they've created with The Mantle. I love walking through the woods when it's nice & cold out, with a thick, even coat of fresh snow on the ground. Beautiful.
20.03.2016 - 00:36
Bad English
I like a opening part of review I would add , this is most European sounding band ever come not from Europe
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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