This is indeed a very hard release for me to review. I know that when reviewing an album you should be impartial, but I truly believe that being completely unbiased is inconceivable. I have an old history with the band, one of the few legendary bands that I can say I have been following since the début album came to life, in this case, Pale Folklore, in the year 1999. I have recorded two interviews with the band, Don Anderson being the one that had the patience to answer my “inquiry” both times. And now I’ve already contacted the poor bastard for a third interview, a written one, so I believe he’ll not suffer as much as before.
That being said, I should add again that my reviews aren’t about the very technical aspects of the releases. My intention is always to present the work, to describe it in a way that the regular listener will understand and conclude if this is an album that is similar to his tastes or not. This isn’t a simple task and I’m completely aware that as a human being, I make many mistakes, but just have in mind that I always try to let you know what’s most important, if the music is great or not. And this surely will involve my personal opinion, so, as always, I recommend you to read other reviews and listen to the material, when legally available.
Let’s head to what’s most important: Agalloch’s new album The Serpent & the Sphere, I always have high hopes for their releases, but, yet, I fear that they won’t be able to keep on creating the overwhelming music that they do. And they never cease to amaze me. The Serpent & the Sphere caused so many eargasms that I was afraid I’d go deaf.
This is what was stated by Profound Lore Records: “The Serpent & The Sphere” sees AGALLOCH take their progressive musical oeuvre to another level, all while maintaining the classic AGALLOCH sound. It is an album that reveals the band’s darkest, most meticulously crafted, and atmospherically surging work of their seventeen-year career.”
The label isn’t fooling you. The Serpent & the Sphere features a sound that “resembles” black metal and post-rock, acoustic interludes, mood changes, it’s enigmatic, it’s Agalloch, again, one of the few bands that is, in my modest view, a genre on its own. This is a very skilled and detailed work, made with passion and integrity. It’s, as I’ve stated before, very hard for me to review The Serpent & the Sphere. I was and still am stunned. If anyone out there know me for my work with the MetalCast and now with Metal-Maniac and is aware of my musical tastes, I have just one more phrase to add: I love this album. It feels like the first candy children are able to eat after being grounded. It feels perfect.
If you didn’t like the organic, more black metal oriented production that was featured on Marrow of the Spirit, you’ll certainly enjoy what is presented on The Serpent & The Sphere. Just to compare to a newer release, it’s almost the same feel that belongs to Faustian Echoes.
And my humble view of this album. Everything is perfect, the acoustic interludes, the drumming work, the production, the bass, vocals, everything, but one aspect that always impresses me is the guitar work. I find it amazingly beautiful, elegant, and exquisite. While listening to The Serpent & The Sphere, I feel like I’m on an astral projection, travelling into another world, away from the imperfect society we live in. This is, as many have regarded as well, a real metal masterpiece, atmospheric and ethereal, superb and impeccable.
Album: The Serpent & the Sphere (2014)
Label: Profound Lore Records
1. Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation
2. (Serpens Caput)
3. The Astral Dialogue
4. Dark Matter Gods
5. Celestial Effigy
6. Cor Serpentis (The Sphere)
7. Vales Beyond Dimension
8. Plateau of the Ages
9. (Serpens Cauda)
Don Anderson – Guitars, Piano, Vocals (backing)
John Haughm – Guitars, Vocals
Jason William Walton – Bass
Aesop Dekker – Drums
Official Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AgallochOfficial
Official Bandcamp: http://agalloch.bandcamp.com/
Official Homepage: http://www.agalloch.org/May 9, 2014