Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit (2010)
©Profound Lore Records
United States


  1. They Escaped the Weight Of Darkness
  2. Into the Painted Grey
  3. The Watcher's Monolith
  4. Black Lake Nidstång
  5. Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires
  6. To Drown
  7. Nihil Totem (Vinyl)
  8. The Weight of Darkness (Vinyl)

I have a high level of respect for bands that wait long periods of time between albums to gather their ideas and properly construct them. To me, there is no better example than that of Portland's Agalloch. Quite possibly the only American metal band than doesn't sound like American metal.

Marrow of the Spirit is a sort of "Back to Nature" album for the band. Everything you hear was recorded on analog equipment using vintage instruments. This makes for a very different sound than that of Ashes Against the Grain which had a very modern, digital production. Everything feels so much more raw, but warm and enveloping at the same time.

New to the group is Ludicra/Worm Ouroboros drummer Aesop Dekker to replace John Haughm who was the percussionist on Ashes Against the Grain. With a new member, comes new influences and a different playing style. Having his routes in black metal, the changes heard in the drumming are significantly contrasting to Hauhgm's and brings about a whole new level of performance.

To describe the guitar work on Marrow of the Spirit; the best word for it would be dirty. No not shitty. Dirty. The tone is filthy, coarse and just perfectly over-driven. The duality between John Hauhgm and Don Anderson is just perfect and they express very well themselves through their performance. I wish I could say something about the bass playing, but in all honesty I can't really hear it. One of the downsides to using a sort of low-end production (aka nothing digital) means that not everything has perfect balance in the multi-track. Just maybe a little something for the band to consider for their next album.

Every Agalloch fan knows that the band's music is greatly inspired by nature. You can really feel their portrayal of musical landscaping through each track on the album. My favorite being The Watcher's Monolith which in these ears, has a very dry, cold, hazy Winter feeling from beginning to end. It has quickly become my favorite Agalloch song ever recorded (finally something to top In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion).

I know I sound like an Agalloch fan-boy. In truth; I am. Most Agalloch fans are. That's what happens when you have a gathering of great minds that have the ability to conjure up fantastic music album after album, with very little (to none) filler to be found anywhere. Actually truth be told there are only 2 Agalloch songs in existence I don't like [link] [link]. And that's only because I am not fond of ambient/drone music.

Marrow of the Spirit is a bit of a short album. There are only 6 tracks. Though they are all quite long (minus the introduction) I would have loved to hear more. The vinyl version of Marrow does however contain two bonus tracks.

I commend Agalloch on another major success of an album. Like I mentioned at the very beginning of the review; I have great respect for artists who really take time and caution to their song writing. It was a four year gap between Ashes Against the Grain and Marrow of the Spirit. With large gaps of time; styles, preferences, and interests change - and so does the music. Marrow is a far cry from Ashes, The Mantle and Pale Folklore. Though some previous influences have been carried on. There are very few similarities between each album which is why no matter which one I listen to, it feels fresh, uncontaminated, and just simply GOOD. Fantastic job.



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