Agalloch were a rather eclectic metal band from The United States, known for their unique fusion of black metal, folk metal, and post-metal into a sound that many refer to as "dark metal." Their songs are typically long, featuring traditional elements of black metal such as tremolo picked guitars and blastbeats alongside more unusual folk instrumentation (including a deer skull on a couple songs) and song structures reminiscent of post-rock. They use a mixture of harsh and clean vocals in most of their songs and write mainly about the beauty of nature, winter, solitude, and ancestral paganism. To date, they have released five full-length albums, four EP's, and two singles, along with a gaggle of demos and split releases.
On May 13th of 2016, after 20 years of creating music, the band unexpectedly decided to break up.
Their releases so far include:
- Pale Folklore (1999)
- Of Stone, Wind and Pillor (2001, EP)
- The Mantle (2002)
- Tomorrow Will Never Come (2003, EP)
- The Grey (2004, EP)
- Ashes Against the Grain (2006)
- The White (2008, EP)
- Marrow of the Spirit (2010)
- Faustian Echoes (2012, EP)
- The Serpent and the Sphere (2014)
- John Haughm - Guitar, vocals, drums
- Don Anderson - Guitar, drums, keyboards
- Jason William Walton - Bass guitar
- Aesop Dekker - Drums
- Shane Breyer - Keyboards
- Chris Greene - Drums
- Album Intro Track: "A Celebration for the Death of Man..." for The Mantle and "They Escaped the Weight of Darkness" for Marrow of the Spirit.
- Album Title Drop: At the very end of "Our Fortress is Burning II", the last song with lyrics on Ashes Against the Grain."And all of our shadows are ashes against the grain."
- Anti-Love Song: "A Desolation Song". "She Painted Fire Across the Skyline" also has elements of this.
- Apocalypse Wow: "...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth" is one of the most stirring and triumphant tracks on The Mantle and appears to be about the end of all life.
- Audio Adaptation: "Faustian Echoes" is essentially one for Faust, considering that all the lyrics are taken from Goethe's play and it uses audio samples from Jan Švankmajer's adaptation of the story.
- Book Ends:
- The Mantle opens with "A Celebration for the Death of Man...", and the climactic track for the album, "...And the Great Cold Death of the Earth" not only continues its title, but ends with a reprise of its main riff. ("A Desolation Song" can be considered an epilogue to the album.)
- Similarly, The White EP opens with "The Isle of Summer" and ends with "Summerisle Reprise", a somber Lonely Piano Piece that, well, reprises the opening track.
- "They Escaped the Weight of Darkness" has melodic elements that reappear in the final song of the album, "To Drown"; in addition, the title of the former, which is instrumental, is whispered at the start of the latter. Some versions of the album also include a 7" vinyl record that includes another track, "The Weight of Darkness", which is an alternate arrangement of themes from these two songs; it makes up the second side of the 7", making it a further example of this trope.
- Breather Episode: The White is this for their discography, as it is an almost entirely acoustic EP of neofolk and dark ambient tracks with almost no elements of metal at all. Most of their albums also contain brief acoustic or ambient interludes to break up the longer songs.
- Concept Album: Most of their albums are this in some form.
- Darker and Edgier: Marrow of the Spirit is much heavier and more Black Metal-influenced than its predecessors; it also doesn't feature clean singing.
- Downer Ending: "A Desolation Song" for The Mantle, "Our Fortress Is Burning... III - The Grain" (or, if you count it, "Scars of the Shattered Sky") for Ashes Against the Grain, "To Drown" for Marrow of the Spirit.
- Driven to Suicide: The narrator of "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion", according to most interpretations.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: Most of their songs have lengthy intros before the vocals come in, if they even have vocals at all.
- Epic Rocking: Most of their songs are about 8-10 minutes long, with some like "Faustian Echoes" surpassing 20 minutes. "Black Lake Niðstång" isn't far behind at around seventeen and a half minutes long.
- Everything Is an Instrument: "The Lodge" and "A Desolation Song" have a deer skull being used for percussion.
- Fading into the Next Song: Most of their albums do this at least somewhat. The CD versions of The Mantle and Pale Folklore are entirely continuous.
- Green Aesop: One of their main lyrical themes is the beauty of nature, and some of their lyrics are direct protests or laments of humanity's despoilment of the environment.
- Harsh Vocals: John Haughm's harsh screams are their main mode of vocals, though they sound less malevolent than most other examples in metal.
- Heavy Mithril: They like to write about mythology sometimes.
- Instrumentals: Lots of their songs have no vocals at all, including about half of The Mantle. "The Hawthorne Passage" is probably their most celebrated example by far.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "Summerisle Reprise." "The Misshapen Steed" also counts, though it also features a string section.
- There's also an instrumental track on The White called "Pantheist".
- Precision F-Strike: Near the beginning of "A Desolation Song."
- Sampling: Shows up sometimes. For example, "The Hawthorne Passage" samples The Seventh Seal and the 1968 Mexican film Fando y Lis (Alejandro Jodorowsky's first film). The first and last two tracks on The White sample The Wicker Man (1973).
- Snow Means Death: Given that they like to write about both death and winter a lot, this is a given.
- Soprano and Gravel: While their primary vocal style is growled, several songs also have clean singing.
- Spiritual Successor: Pillorian, John Haughm's new band formed after the breakup of Agalloch, probably qualifies. The other three band members have formed a band called Khôrada with Aaron Gregory, formerly of Giant Squid, but have said not to expect their work to sound like either Agalloch or Giant Squid; they haven't released any material yet, however, and all they've really said about their sound is that it is "incredibly powerful and monstrously heavy".
- Spoken Word in Music: Used with some frequency, mainly with sampling from movies. John Haughm also gives a spoken word monologue on "To Drown."
- The Stoic: The entire band.
- Subdued Section: A common technique of the band. "Black Lake Niðstång" features a particularly stirring example.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Most of their acoustic tracks and a lot of their instrumentals qualify. The White is a surprisingly gentle album.
- Uncommon Time: From time to time. For instance, "Black Lake Niðstång" has a riff that comes out to 17/4 (4+5+4+4/4).
- The World Is Just Awesome: Their music tends to give this vibe a lot, even when it's completely instrumental.