” No corridors of life and beauty, no blood-red sky, no colors left in this world”
With Pale Folklore finally being reprinted on vinyl again, by The End Records for a release on May 14th, it felt like the perfect time to revisit this classic album, the debut album by the Portland-based metal-band, Agalloch. Playing a fusion of different genres, Agalloch mainly combine the aesthetics of Black Metal, Folk Metal, Doom Metal and on later releases, Post Metal.
Pale Folklore is in many ways a very overlooked album as the result of the two following albums, The Mantle and Ashes Against the Grain being so incredibly successful. The Mantle took on a more Post-Rock influenced sound and has become a modern-day classic. Ashes Against the Grain on the other hand incorporated ambient, drone and noise influences resulting in a darker sound. Pale Folklore is a less polished album, but still features a lot of the elements that made the following albums such cherished albums.
Agalloch’s music has always evoked a lot of feelings due to the amazing atmosphere of the music, and the band has always been good at painting a picture or a story with the use of their music. Imagine yourself standing in a forest in the middle of a snowy landscape. The wind is blowing and the only thing you hear is the silence of forgotten landscapes. There is not a living soul in sight, and a storm is coming. You start walking through the thick and dark forest as the snow starts falling, and suddenly you see a deserted cabin by a frozen lake. The cabin is spooky and looks like it has been deserted for a long time, and the old floor makes a squeaking sound as you walk across it.
“She Painted Fire Across the Skyline 1″ starts off with the sound of the wind, which is soon followed by guitars. The guitar soon establishes the main melody for the song and what will come next, and clocking in at over 8 minutes, the song delivers fierce harsh vocals, some amazing guitar work, some haunting female vocals and a very epic theme that follows through the next two songs, resulting in the epic trilogy that is “She Painted Fire Across the Skyline”. The idea to make three songs, or rather one long epic divided into three parts was a really cool idea that the band would later repeat on Ashes Against the Grain with the “Our Fortress is Burning”-trilogy.
The album gives the listener a small breather next in the instrumental song “The Misshapen Stead”, but continues down the epic road deeper into the dark forest with the 10-minute epic “Hallways of Enchanted Ebony”, possibly the best song on the album. It starts off with clean guitars but just keeps building as the song progresses, and it features one of the best guitar solos on the album. Next comes two songs you might be familiar with if you heard the live DVD, both “Dead Winter Days” and “As Embers Dress the Sky” appeared on it. The studio versions both sound slightly different, but not in a bad way. The last song is the big epic on the album, clocking in at over 12 minutes, “The Melancholy Spirit” takes you on a journey that you wont forget.
Pale Folklore is an album filled with creativity and a very unique mix of different metal subgenres. There is an interesting contrast between the harsh vocals and the clean vocals, and singer/guitarist John Haughm has a voice that is perfectly suited for this kind of music. While the following releases had a more clean production and sound, the rawness is one of the best aspects on this album. If you are into metal and don’t have a problem with harsh vocals, you should look up this band. With the album being reprinted on Vinyl soon, it will be worth checking out, trust me.
Standout tracks: She Painted Fire Across the Skyline (parts 1-3), Hallways of Enchanted Ebony, The Melancholy Spirit.