Agalloch Marrow of the Spirit

Agalloch Marrow of the Spirit
Agalloch's latest masterpiece is a lo-fi chimera, its textures as raw and irregular, yet deeply patterned, as the natural world it evokes. Marrow of the Spirit, like every Agalloch recording, revels in rich atmospheres, and here they're particularly rustic and untamed, but with highly effective stretches of sophistication and restraint. In swells of nostalgic gloom, the album verges on ambient goth, especially when cello or piano take over in delicate contrast to the more conventional, if only slightly, aggression of the guitar work. From a soothing beginning (all strings, birdsong and flowing water), Marrow of the Spirit dives deep into an expressive maelstrom, re-emerging every now and then to follow the mellower eddies and currents. The instrumental passages tend to take centre stage ― eerie guitar melodies, ominous bass lines and drum hits, and persistent riffs are just a few facets of the splendidly heterogeneous whole. Where the human voice does obtrude (ranging from folk-ish chants to sometimes whispery, sometimes throat-wrenching growls), it's likely to soon ease back into the surrounding, carefully constructed noise. The sonorous cacophony finally comes to a tumultuous climax in the closing track, amidst a crashing reshaping of the opening melody. And then, in the last perfect moment, all sound seeps away like grains of sand lost in the waves. (Profound Lore)