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Agalloch Makes Up for Disappointing SXSW Show

Agalloch has taken its listeners on a voyage over various soundscapes ever since their 1999 debut “Pale Folklore.” Lengthy tracks paint audio pictures of biting winds, snow-capped mountains, bubbling brooks, crackling fire places, placid pools of self-reflection, cold apparitions, the Northern Lights and so much more. Their songs convey a wide range of moods, bright and cheerful, calming white or grey with melancholy. The group needs a long set and stage props to create an authentic Agalloch concert.

When Agalloch last appeared in Austin for SXSW 2011 the group left many of their fans disappointed or at least with mixed emotions. They played a short set of mostly newer material, and their stage presented little in terms of atmosphere. Even front man John Haughm commented on how the SXSW show was less than satisfactory. Many of us had waited years, even a decade to see a rare appearance by the band, so in some ways, we were happy just to have seen the band. Still, many went away having not heard their favorite songs. Agalloch’s return to Austin, this time at Red 7, delivered the type of Agalloch performance we hoped and expected. Their 2.5 hour performance featured choice cuts throughout their career. Additionally, they offered a stage show that tantalized the senses.

Before dishing the goods on Agalloch, we need to first look at openers, Taurus. The two-piece, all-female group is atypical in members alone, not to mention the spacy, droning experimentations found in their music. Guitarist and vocalist, Stevie Floyd—also of Dark Castle—produced a variety of sounds on her guitar. Some parts resembled flesh-melting steel infernos and her unconventional tri-chords presented warped and frightening noises. Ashley Spungin pounded her drums with authority, often going off on a jazzy tangent. Additionally, a screen played random images while the group. All this was not enough, though, to keep the audience’s attention.

Even though Agalloch slowed down for several minutes at a time, Taurus was just too slow. They lacked the melodies, progression and hooks that enticed people down to watch Agalloch. Nearly every person I talked to at the show voiced their dislike of Taurus. Part of this dislike is noted above, while some of their distaste was due to their coming out to the show only for Agalloch. I would have been fine with a lone performance by Agalloch, especially considering the show started after 9 PM, so the “I missed it because of work” argument holds no water.

Guitarist/vocalist John Haughm prepped the stage by lighting candles and incense, which not only added light but offered spiritually-minded fragrances. Soon the rest of the group, Don Anderson (guitar), Jason William Walton (bass) and Aesop Dekker (drums), entered the stage and played a intro known as “NW Intro” on their set list and then transitioned into “Falling Snow” a highlight from the “Ashes Against the Grain” album. Dry ice shrouded the group in fog—a fitting image for a band that comes from the foggy woodlands of Oregon.

The ghastly-lighted quartet played choice cuts from throughout their career. Most Agalloch fans probably agree it was a “best of” set. “Into the Painted Grey” and “The Watcher’s Monlith” represented “Marrow of the Spirit Material,” “Hallways of Enchanted Ebony” and “Dead Winter Days” from the “Pale folklore” album and “In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion” and “You Were but a Ghost in My Arms” from the "Mantle" album. Each song was heavy with melody and pedal-created effects such as water-rippling digital delay; however, “Into the Painted Grey” and “Faustian Echoes” pushed the pace and showcased Dekker’s nimble hands behind the drums. Having been released just a few months ago, this was the first time many heard the diabolic notes of “Faustian Echoes.”

Before ending their set around 1:45, the group played the highly requested “Kneel to the Cross.” This track is a cover of the English band Sol Invictus’ song. Haughm and company started the chant “Summer is coming in, arise, arise,” while the crowd stomped its feet and clapped in cadence. The group finished their set with “Our Fortress is Burning” part one and two from the “Ashes Against the Grain Album.”

As far as I know, Agalloch played each song in its entirety. They wasted little time in their two-and-a-half-hour set. Every instrument was placed correctly in the mix for maximum audibility. Kudos to the sound guy (famous producer Billy Anderson is twiddling knobs on this tour) at Red 7 for getting it right! This show was the ultimate Agalloch live experience. They played the best tracks, the ones that I and most of the crowd wanted to hear, they sounded great and communicated perfect ambiance for their music. If you are an Agalloch fan, I highly recommend you catch them on this tour!

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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20 Comments on "Agalloch Plays 2.5 Hour Set of Classics in Austin"

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Anonymous Reader
1. TRAVO writes:

Drove all the way from Houston to see these guys, it was an incredible show. It was definitely worth the drive. Although, they didn't play 'Not Unlike The Waves', the experience of being there live, and finally getting the chance to see these guys play was more the rewarding.

# Aug 8, 2012 @ 4:42 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar

Member

2. R10 writes:

Good review! Unfortunately,i cant make thier Cambridge,MA show;it's like mid week,and i gotta work.

# Aug 8, 2012 @ 4:58 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rex_84's avatar

Writer

3. Rex_84 writes:

You're missing out, R10! That was the show I've been waiting for.

# Aug 8, 2012 @ 5:00 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar

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4. R10 writes:

Trust me Rex,if there was any way i could attend Agalloch's Cambridge show without taking two days off from work,i would. I've never seen them,they've been on my "need to see" list for a couple of years now. It's tough because im already taking a couple nights off in Sept. to see Rush and Accept/Kreator. Still trying to find a way to take a day off to see Ex Deo in Cambridge. So many shows,so few days off to attend im afraid.

# Aug 8, 2012 @ 5:18 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. Aaron S writes:

I had tickets for this show, but I couldn't make the drive from Houston.

After reading this review and hearing my concert buddy's thoughts, I'm so dejected I missed an amazing time. Agalloch is possibly my favorite band and I missed probably the best setlist ever. I really really hope they tour soon and I will cash out money to see them, even if they aren't as close to Houston as Austin is.

# Aug 8, 2012 @ 5:37 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
silvermountains's avatar

Member

6. silvermountains writes:

I was planning to attend but other things got ahead of me, bummer this sounded awesome. great review as always, hope to see you at a show soon Rex.

# Aug 8, 2012 @ 6:31 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

7. hellrat writes:

Ah you suck Rex :)

Fvck I wanted to see this bad...just didnt work out, my sorry fvcking a$$ just couldn't make it up to coloradical

FVCK!!

NP---Not Unlike the Waves---Black Forest Hobbit Metal \m/

# Aug 9, 2012 @ 4:16 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. PULLM writes:

wow, a rare diamond in the rough type setlist. People are truly lucky to see these kinds of shows and not get the opposite - cancellation/some band member is sick or some crap like that.

# Aug 9, 2012 @ 4:52 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
9. best new black metal post whatever writes:

This and Emperor are the only two bands of black metal that I will venture to listen always. Agalloch, is my favorite black metal band (among other elements as well). This site completely lambasted their last album: SHAME ON YOU WHOEVER DID THAT... you gave it 2.5/5????? LOLWHAT?

# Aug 9, 2012 @ 6:12 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
10. hammerheart14 writes:

Agalloch has just ripped off other bands in their career, most blatant was Pale Folklore, which was just an American attempt (otherwise, POOR) to rip off Ulver - Bergtatt. No other band, especially Agalloch, can achieve the level of greatness that Ulver had achieved with Bergtatt.

# Aug 19, 2012 @ 1:39 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
11. hammerheart14 writes:

Oh, and one last thing: Agalloch is the one band whose responsible for polluting black metal with post rock, a horrible disease that has sickened my favorite musical genre. Thank Satan we still have bands sticking with the old school, 90's black metal sound, like the new Ungod album, Cloaked in Eternal Darkness, which is the best bm album I have heard in a while.

# Aug 19, 2012 @ 1:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

12. hellrat writes:

^hmmmm... that's quite the melodrama :)

NP---In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion

# Aug 20, 2012 @ 6:04 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
13. agalloch >; ulver writes:

they do it better that's why

# Aug 20, 2012 @ 6:30 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

14. hellrat writes:

^indeed....also can't help but wonder what the Prima Donna Black Metal Dork thinks of Fenriz and Ted these days? eh now? :)

NP---Fvck Off and Die---Darkthrone

# Aug 20, 2012 @ 6:33 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
15. hammerheart14 writes:

Actually, I respect the new Darkthrone style, since their new stuff is heavily influenced by Manilla Road, one of my favorite bands. Nothing wrong with old school metal. But post rock and black metal doesn't mix, it's like diluting vodka with water, it's weaker with that sh**. I am no prima dona, just can't stand the current trends, they ALL die off. I have been in metal long enough to see many trends come and go, but guess what? REAL metal bands, especially, REAL black metal bands like Ungod, they're here to stay and they don't f***ing compromise!!!!

# Aug 20, 2012 @ 8:03 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

16. hellrat writes:

^Fair enough...I DO understand your perspective...though I think it might behoove you to not stringently adhere to the rather colvoluted/continually evolving notion of 'genre'....there's a lot of great sh!t out there man, stuff that might 'rip off' and 'dilute' certain predecessors...but could likewise be considered musical 'evolution', respectable by its OWN standard

I guess Im tryin to say: dont rip YOURself off man...I'm generally a retro-grouch to the core, but am willing to keep an open mind when considering 'new' music...it has led to MANY enjoyable discoveries...Agalloch is only one of such

But I also recognize that they are not exactly everyone's cup ;)

# Aug 20, 2012 @ 8:52 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Cynic's avatar

Senior Reviewer

17. Cynic writes:

High five for Manilla Road!

I've never been a fan of Bergtatt - Nattens Madrigal on the other hand is a bona fide masterpiece, in constant war with "Transylvanian Hunger" when I feel like listening to static. I think we can all agree Ulver is a masterful band.

While I agree that Agalloch were the turning point for black metal into post-rock, I don't think they can be blamed for the deluge of hipster post-rock bm bands that came after them.

I actually wrote an article on it hammerheart and make fun of plenty of the bands, check it out: metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=71690

# Aug 20, 2012 @ 9:48 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rex_84's avatar

Writer

18. Rex_84 writes:

I think saying Agalloch is an Ulver rip-off is a gross exaggeration. I'm sure early Ulver records influenced the band, but those records influenced many bands. You could say that about any pagan-folk BM band. Also, besides the samples on "Pale Folklore," I don't hear much else resembling Ulver. "The Mantle" doesn't sound like Ulver one bit. I really enjoy the acoustic guitar and kettle drum on that album. Hipster bands may have ripped off the post metal influence, but none of them convey the woodsy, depressive feel of Agalloch. You're entitled to your opinion, Jared, but I've been hooked ever since buying "Of Stone, Wind and Pillar" at Amoeba in San Francisco and driving around listening to it in the hills near Big Basin National Park.

# Aug 21, 2012 @ 3:00 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
19. hammerheart14 writes:

Good points Rex-84. I was referring to Pale Folklore as the album that sounds like Bergatt. And yes, Agalloch is better than most other post rock bm bands, I will give you that. And just for the record, I do not know who this Jared guy is, but my name is Mark, and it's nice to meet you. Is there another guy going around with the hammerheart14 name?

# Aug 22, 2012 @ 11:25 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
deathbringer's avatar

Founder, owner & programmer

20. deathbringer writes:

SXSW 2011 disappointed? Not for me - I loved it. Probably the most enjoyable show for me and got me into the band. And seeing them outside with perfect weather and a view of the clear night sky was awesome. It was very atmospheric.

# Aug 23, 2012 @ 8:37 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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