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Review of the Album "the Mantle" by Agalloch

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The Style of The Mantle

The Mantle is the 2nd studio album by death and doom metal band Agalloch and listening to this album can feel like quite a surreal sort of experience whereas other similar bands such as Italy’s Novembre may not have provided such a feeling. The White which is a seven song mini album was mostly a new folk kind of album whereas The Mantle is a hybrid of Ensiferum style acoustic guitar play mixed in with Opeth length songs and music that is influenced by In Flames.

About three of the nine songs on this 2002 album are long but they don’t really feel like they drag on because musically, this album just flows really well. We might as well analyze this album song by song so here it goes:

The Songs

  1. A Celebration for the Death of Man…- This 2 minute plus song is an instrumental song that sounds a lot like Finland’s Ensiferum and it is a soft song to start what is to be a very long album.
  2. In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion – This is the first of the three long songs in this album that sees John Haughm alternate between his vocal growls and clean vocal parts. Even if one of the riffs repeat themselves in this song, the song is still one of Agalloch’s best.
  3. Odal – This instrumental song is stylistically similar to Fates Warning and it also sounds a bit like Norway’s The 3rd and the Mortal. It can be thought of as a doom metal song too because of how it feels but you don’t get the sense that it is going to depress you.
  4. I Am the Wooden Doors – This song is actually metaphorically talking about a set of wooden doors being this foundation that will remain closed if the heart becomes wounded by grief, anguish, or despair.
  5. The Lodge – This song is another instrumental song and stylistically it feels like Morningrise era Opeth.
  6. You Were But a Ghost in My Arms – This song which has lyrics similar to the style of Opeth describes a situation in which a man is despondent and sorrowful because the one that he loved has passed away only to leave him alone. The vocal growls are not too different from that of Paul Masvidal.
  7. The Hawthorne Passage – This is the last of three very long songs and it has dialogue parts from two different films in languages other than English. The dual guitar styles contrast is heard in the song and I’m sure Mikael from the band Opeth would be impressed if he heard this song.
  8. …And the Great Cold Death of the Earth – This song is lyrically about the Earth hanging on by a thread and it is only a matter of time before its foundation collapses.
  9. A Desolation Song – This last song of this album is a song about a love relationship that has gone horribly wrong. The man described in this song thinks that love is the poison of life. He is desolate and lost and he has no hope. The song has a very good guitar feel to it and sounds like something we would have heard in the 1960s but it is a good modern rock song.

"I Am the Wooden Doors"

The Mantle Can Provide a Surreal Listening Experience

It is a real shame that the band Agalloch was put to rest permanently in May 2016 because they could have kept going, made a statement through their music that they were ready to play among some of the European metal greats and be a sort of musical force for metal bands in the United States. But that was not to be. Listening to Portland Oregon’s Agalloch provides a sort of unique experience because this album isn’t your traditional doom metal or death metal album. The Mantle can be seen as a hybrid of progressive metal with doom and death metal influences.

"The Lodge"

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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