Agalloch is an American neofolk/black/doom metal band formed in 1995 in Portland, Oregon. The band is led by vocalist and guitarist John Haughm and so far have released four limited EPs, three full-length albums, two demos, one split album, and one compilation album. A live DVD and a fourth full-length album are planned for future release.
Agalloch began as the creation of John Haughm
and Shane Breyer
, named after the fragrant resinous wood
of the Agarwood
). In early 1996, songs began to be produced by the duo and, during the summer, Don Anderson
joined the band to further refine the material. These songs would later become the From Which of This Oak demo tape
in the autumn of that year. This recording showed a large amount of black metal
influence, with an amount of material which would later appear on subsequent albums in one form or another. Shortly after the recording, Jason William Walton
was added to the line up as bassist.
In 1998, the three recorded a new promotional tape
solely for labels. It caught the attention of The End Records
, who offered them a record contract, resulting in the Pale Folklore
album. The album features less of a black metal influence than before, many totally reworked demo songs, more folk
elements and neoclassical
interludes. The album was met with much critical acclaim. After the recording was complete, Breyer departed from the band line up due to lack of interest in music.
Of Stone, Wind and Pillor
After a period of quiet, the band released an EP
of unreleased material from 1998-2001 entitled Of Stone, Wind and Pillor
, revealing more of a neoclassical and experimental element. The EP also includes a cover of Neofolk
band Sol Invictus
' "Kneel to the Cross" that would later be released on Sol Lucet Omnibus
's tribute compilation to Sol Invictus.
During the 2001 to early 2002 period, Agalloch recorded The Mantle
, featuring more of a post-rock
influence. The album sleeve art contains photographs of public statues and fountains found in downtown Portland
. This album marked a change in media attention for Agalloch, landing them interviews with a few mainstream magazines.
Following the release of The Mantle, Agalloch played their first show on March 6, 2003 in Portland, Oregon. This was followed by a few shows in March and a US west coast tour in May.
In 2003, Tomorrow Will Never Come was released and in 2004 The Grey were released. These EPs showcased an even more experimental side of Agalloch, featuring remixed and reworked versions of songs from The Mantle as well as a new post-rock-influenced title track on Tomorrow Will Never Come. Agalloch also performed a series of shows on the US and Canada east coast in 2004.
A nature-themed split 10" picture disc EP with the Finnish band Nest was also released in 2004, showcasing a collaborative, neofolk effort by Agalloch. The Nest track was a more electronic, percussion-heavy effort with vocals and guitar contributed by Haughm and Anderson.
2005 saw a double vinyl re-releases of The Mantle and a double vinyl re-release of Pale Folklore in a limited wooden box, complete with new artwork for both albums. It was only available to commemorate the band's single 2005 live performance at Day of the Equinox, a music festival held in Toronto on October 14, 2005.
Ashes Against the Grain
Ashes Against the Grain
was released on August 8
by The End Records
, featuring less focus on The Mantle
's prominent acoustic guitars
and instead more emphasis on electric guitars
and metal elements, giving the album a different sound from that of their previous releases.
On February 29
, Agalloch released The White
, the second half (and stylistic opposite) of their 2-part EP release for Vendlus Records. This was a collection of dark folk/ambient work from between the years 2004 and 2007. The sound had reverted away from the sound of their last release, Ashes Against the Grain
, and is more akin to the acoustic guitar sound of The Mantle
. The tracks "The Isle of Summer", "Sowilo Rune" and "Summerisle Reprise", are themed on The Wicker Man
, the latter two utilizing samples from the film. Also, the track "Birch White" borrows its lyrics from a song by A.S.J. Tessimond
titled "Birch Tree". The track "Sowilo Rune" was posted on their MySpace roughly two months before the album was released. As with The Grey
, the album was limited to 2,000 copies.
The Demonstration Archive and present
On August 4, 2008, Agalloch released a compilation album called The Demonstration Archive. It was a compilation of material recorded in between 1996 and 1998 that came from From Which of This Oak, the then-unreleased Of Stone, Wind and Pillor, and their 1998 promo album. Currently, Agalloch is working on a fourth full-length album, but due to the lack of a label for the band, it is likely that it will be 2009 before the record can be released.
Agalloch performs a progressive
style of folk metal
that encompasses an eclectic range of tendencies including neofolk
, black metal
and doom metal
Common themes in Agalloch's imagery and subject matter are natural beauty and allusions to ancestral Heathenry.
One of the non-traditional instruments Agalloch has been known to use is the skull of a deer. In the song "The Lodge" John Haughm strikes the deer skull in order to create an unusual clicking sound..
In a 1999 interview done by Dan Tobin with Jason William Walton and John Haughm , the band members have cited other influences including Katatonia, Ulver, The 3rd and the Mortal, Swans, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Demos, EPs, and splits
- John Haughm − vocals, guitar, drums (ex-Sculptured, ex-Nothing, Landfill, Lotus 78, A Den of Wolves)
- Don Anderson − guitar (Sculptured, ex-Nothing, ex-Darling)
- Jason William Walton − bass guitar (Especially Likely Sloth, ex-Subterranean Masquerade, Sculptured, Nothing)
- Aesop Dekker − drums (Ludicra)