Agalloch – Faustian Echoes – Review

After 2010’s masterpiece ‘Marrow Of The Spirit’, Agalloch release their eighth EP to date and in the true fashion of the four-piece’s unpredictability, it’s a lot different from previous attempts.

                     

With this EP, Agalloch have crafted the lengthiest song in their 17-year career, inspired by Johanne Wolfgang von Goethe’s ‘Faust’ – a play by the author deemed to be one of the most significant pieces in the history of German literature.

Recorded and mixed by Billy Anderson (Melvins, Sleep, Neurosis) and mastered by Justin Weis (Ludicra, Hammers Of Misfortune, Worm Ouroboros), there’s an immediate sense that ‘Faustian Echoes’ is, in places, heavier than their other extensive experimental EPs. Percussive blasting and melodic black metal guitar lines are introduced on the half-way mark of this 21-minute epic, revealing the extent of Agalloch’s more straight-forward exploitation of their initial blackened roots.

In fact, this is up there with Agalloch’s most black metal-tainted material, and whilst fans of such classics as ‘The Mantle’ and ‘Ashes Against The Grain’ might still enjoy this rawer approach, there’ll undoubtedly be a contingent of Agalloch fans who will find this a bit too much to swallow. You can’t fault the EP on ambition, although ‘Black Lake Nidstang’ – from their last full-length – will forever stand out as the Portland act’s most profound epic.

Agalloch’s only consistencies are that – no matter what they set their mind on – the final product is always a fine piece of work and there are no guarantees of where they’ll stylistically tread when they next enter the studio.

7/10

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