Talking about the work of Agalloch can be very easy, because about a band active for almost twenty years and with a discography of such quality you could easily write a book; at the same time, evaluate the real consistency of each release is anything but trivial, since John Haughm and members have accustomed us, over the years, to frequent changes of direction while maintaining a sound completely personal. It must be said that, for what it’s worth my opinion, the band from Portland has reached its compositional heights in the last decade with the magnificent Ashes Against The Grain / The White Album, which showed without any filter the different faces, from the atmospheric black doom of the full length to the crystalline folk of the next ep. In the following years Agalloch have continued to propose, as usual, an avalanche of material from which I would extrapolate an opaque album, at least as we are used to, such as Marrow Of The Spirit and the much more convincing ep Faustian Echoes; this new long-distance release, which after all is only the fifth with this format in a history already quite long, will probably divide the fans of the band as it shows certainly a greater catchiness of the background, which can be traced back to the post metal less cerebral, which in my opinion is absolutely appreciable. The Serpent & The Sphere, in the course of its hour-long duration, probably does not touch the quality peaks of the works that I mentioned as the best of the vast discography of the American band, but it turns out to be equally rich in episodes capable of reconciling the listener with the surrounding world, thanks to airy melodic openings of great emotional impact, as it happens in the three main tracks of the album, the opener Birth And Death Of The Pillars Of Creation, the magnificent Dark Matter Gods, and the long instrumental Plateau Of The Ages. The folk ambient component is not omitted and contributes to the success of the work, both characterizing the three short instrumental tracks referable to the title of the album (Serpens Caput, Cor Serpentis and Serpens Cauda), and scattering of delicate acoustic arpeggios even the remaining tracks. As far as I’m concerned, The Serpent & The Sphere is definitely not Agalloch‘s masterpiece, but it’s still a great album, whose listening doesn’t bore and it’s satisfying from the first to the last note; the peculiarity of the sound of this band is out of discussion and limiting oneself to measure with the pharmacist’s balance whether this or that component is more or less predominant at the end turns out to be a rather cloying operation. Ultimately, Agalloch confirm with this album to be one of the most stimulating realities of the world metal, beyond the subdivisions of genre.
2014 – Profound Lore Records / Daymare Recordings / Eisenwald / Dämmerung Arts 2021 – Sphera Noctis Records