The Angry Scotsman
New Agalloch EP? Composed of a single, 21 minute song and based off the legendary story of Faust? HELL. YES.
This was another quality output by the atmospheric metal gurus from the Pacific Northwest.
There is not anything groundbreaking here for the band, all in all it is more or less a standard Agalloch release, but as any fan will tell you a standard Agalloch release is a unique experience better than most music out there!
"Faustian Echoes" has it all: bleak, raw doom metal tempered with blast beat laden black metal, folk, light and dark passages, superb melodies, thrashy parts, melancholic chains of double bass and tremolo picking, and textured songwriting all moving in a perfect flow. Everything works together but never like a formula, but..well like the atmosphere, flowing together as one beautiful thing.
The vocals are raspy growls, familiar to any Agalloch fan. Unfortunately John Haughm never uses his clean vocals, which is shame since they are so good, and the change of pace would be nice. While not bad, the harsh vocals get a tad tiresome, thankfully the vocals are not a major part of this EP. The seem a bit dry as well, lacking that Haughm passion and intensity of the past. I fully admit though, over the recent years I've lost much of my taste for harsh vocals.
There are samples used throughout, from the 1994 film Faust. One of the best parts in the whole song is a section with gentle, almost indetectable electronic noises fluttering in the background while a sample of Faust speaking to Mephistopheles is heard. A gentle guitar melody starts up as Mephistopheles says, "Go bear these tidings to great Lucifer" and the music works with it so perfectly, it's hauntingly beautiful. What makes it so amazing is the sample used is spoken, but with an almost singing like quality. Perhaps it just seems that way due to the guitar melody playing, but the whole speaking segment just works amazingly.
The sound is also standard Agalloch, clean enough to hear everything but still raw and a bit dirty. It conveys the bleakness and abrasiveness of black metal but is not nearly as poor in actual quality. The guitars are more distorted than noisy and buzzing, like typical black metal.
Lyrically, this EP is based off the story of Faust, which most are vaguely familiar with at least, so briefly the famous story involved the man Faust, who sells his soul to the Devil for knowledge and desire...bored with his limitations on Earth.
This is a very solid, if fairly typical, Agalloch release and this is not a bad thing. It leaves me a bit underwhelmed, but there is not much bad that can be said. Any fan of Agalloch should find this enjoyable, at the very minimal, and any metal fan who has a taste for the progressive and harsh, I would recommend "Faustian Echoes" surely. Though it's not the strongest Agalloch release, it's very good.
THREE AND A HALF STARS