Agalloch, Jex Thoth
New York, NY
June 30, 2014
Agalloch were one of the first metal bands to combine black/doom’s monsoon of carnage with ambient, post-rock-inspired folk melodies. The most notable act to be influenced by the Oregon band’s stylistic bloodbath are Deafheaven. Taking Agalloch’s approach of adding atmospheric, emotive music to death metal, Deafheaven received high critical praise with their 2013 formidable tour de force Sunbather.
I’m not the first person to gush about Agalloch’s inventiveness. According to their Bandcamp.com bio, “It has been said that Agalloch is to heavy metal what Ingmar Bergman is to cinema.”
The quartet recently dominated New York’s Irving Plaza in support of their 2014 epic The Serpent & The Sphere. Their entire performance was inarguably powerful and amazing.
Agalloch are notable for their live show environments, which incorporate wood, incense, and pictures of the Northwest. Thanks to the first two elements, the room smelled beautifully. Unfortunately, though, the metalheads’ pungent sweat killed these fantastic aromas.
“Limbs” was an intense, post-metal explosion. I loved the bombastic, D major-scale chord sequence and haunting guitar riffs. Agalloch really expressed their post-rock spirit on “Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires” with a rushing flood of ethereal, echoing guitars. Their staging of The Serpent & The Sphere’s theatrical lead single “Celestial Effigy” was just awesome.
The guys had skillful musicianship, but they didn’t let their instruments get in the way of stage presence: bassist Jason William Walton confidently strode across the stage while interacting with his mates, and guitarist Don Anderson got the crowd screaming by provocatively cuffing his ears and clapping.
I had a remarkable time seeing Agalloch. They’ve been enchanting the metal world for almost 20 years, and they haven’t lost one drop of almightiness. Cheers to Agalloch.