The Serpent & The Sphere

May 13, 2014 | Format: MP3

$9.49
Also available in CD Format
Song Title
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10:28
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3:06
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5:11
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8:36
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6:59
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2:58
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6:48
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12:26
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3:12

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Product Details

  • Original Release Date: May 13, 2014
  • Label: Profound Lore
  • Copyright: 2014 Profound Lore
  • Total Length: 59:44
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B00K7CLNQG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,538 Paid in Albums (See Top 100 Paid in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
This new album, I believe, will instantly please anyone who's ever been an Agalloch fan.
J. Hill
Haughm's vocals are restricted to his easily recognizable style, alternating between whispered singing and feral screaming.
Murat Batmaz
Agalloch is a brilliant band, and this album conveys the members' talent, spirit, and perfectionism.
Chris H

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Hill TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 13, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you're anything like me, you think the release of a new Agalloch album should be a national holiday. New full-lengths don't come too often, and when they do, they're pretty much genius. If any of their albums got a less-than-overwhelming response, it was the last one, "Marrow of the Spirit." That one had a more metal approach than any of their material since 1997's "From Which of This Oak," with more frequent black metal vocals and even blast beats, which was new for Agalloch. The folk and alt-rock sections also seemed more basic in places, not quite as lush as on the previous albums. I personally love "Marrow" as much as anything the band has done, but it took longer than usual for some to fully embrace it. This new album, I believe, will instantly please anyone who's ever been an Agalloch fan. "The Serpent and the Sphere" combines elements of all four of their previous albums, but mostly the first three. Many times throughout the CD, I hear parts that remind me of "Pale Folklore" and "The Mantle," but probably more so than the other two, "Ashes Against the Grain."

Every song here is broad and sweeping in scope, presenting beautifully crisp alt-rock guitar licks intertwined with folk and various styles of metal, with the exception of the three enchanting, elegant acoustic pieces sprinkled into the mix. "Serpent" offers some of the most fun Agalloch songs to listen to in many years, bringing a fair amount of the rocking-out from the first two albums back into their sound, with plenty of brooding doom metal to up the ante. They even play some of the melodic black metal akin to their earliest material on "The Astral Dialogue" and in a few other spots.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on May 22, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
THE SERPENT AND THE SPHERE is another superb album from Agalloch, with disparate sections interwoven to create a progressive sonic tapestry that is greater than the sum of its parts.

John Haughm's lyrics turn here from the dark forest, which has been the central image through all Agalloch's music until now, to the Cosmos. More specifically, to the Cosmos as Macrosphere and the spirit within as the Microsphere which is the Cosmos in miniature.

As expressed in "Vales Beyond Dimension":

"I have peeled away layers of my humanity
No longer a being, the core of entity
For each layer reveals the key to the gates of the multiverse.

Through the doorway of a shaman's reality
A universe within the skull."

Haughm's harsh vocals are more restrained than in the past, a whispering rasp, but no croaking. There are no clean vocals. Nathaniel Larochette composed three solo classical guitar pieces which he performs, and they serve as segues between the six long, electric songs performed by the band, one instrumental, providing a medieval feel.

THE SERPENT AND THE SPHERE sounds more like Marrow of the Spirit than any other Agalloch album, but it is more restrained, less sprawling, and more meticulously constructed. While excellent, I hope Haughm doesn't stray for too long from his concern for the forest and for the Earth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Stutheit on June 13, 2014
Format: Audio CD
For the first new full-length in four years, Agalloch diverge away from the decisively heavier approach taken on 2010's "Marrow Of The Spirit," choosing instead to plunge back down into the progressive-leaning approach that birthed them. What this means is that the brutal drum blasts and mammoth riffs have mostly (if not entirely) been replaced by softly-strummed acoustic passages, non-threatening moods, and looming ambiance. As a result, there is definitely still some heavy stuff heard on 2014's "The Serpent & The Sphere," but for the most part, this is new ground.

The band's musicianship is, as always, excellent. Subdued bass/drum grooves weaving in and out of the rhythms, supplying the arrangements with a firm, but not overly dominating foundation. Meanwhile, the guitar work is very inventive and varied as it shifts back and forth from doomy tendencies to pure, unadulterated prog rock in excelsis. And frontman John Haughm's vocals, meanwhile, are also top-notch. Raspy and throaty, his vocals, which remind listeners that Agalloch do have roots in black metal, provide the sound with just the right amount of dissonance and edge. Sometimes in progressive metal, the songs fail to really get off the ground or go anywhere with a vocalist that doesn't have enough horsepower. But this is most certainly not a problem, here.

Of the nine tracks that are presented here, three (the dreamy "serpents caput," the fleet-fingered "Vales Beyond Dimension," and the heavily folk-y "serpens cauda") are gorgeous acoustic guitar interludes of Opeth-ian proportions. Of the actual songs, it is a cut like the opener, "Birth And Death Of The Pillars Of Creation," that seems to stand out the most.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul M. on May 20, 2014
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I always have high hopes going into an Agalloch record, even with not being the biggest fan of Marrow of the Spirit. I've probably listened to it 10-15 times now and overall I'm happy with the purchase. This was actually more difficult than I thought to review because even after the multiple listens, I truly do enjoy the songs but something just feels like it's missing.

After looking at one of the other reviews, he's exactly right in the sense that this release is missing any real stand out tracks. With the previous albums, I might only feel like a ...and the Great Cold Death of the Earth, Odal, Falling Snow, Not Unlike the Waves or Black Lake Niđstĺng. When I bring up this track listing and scroll through, there's really not one track in particular I'm craving enough to single out. This could change with more listens, but I've listened to it quite enough to conclude that I'm not hearing a true favorite. A better example would even be if you could only show 5 songs of the bands catalog to a new fan, I'm not sure I would pick something from this release.

Nitpicking aside, it's still an enjoyable listen with everything you've come to love about the band in terms of their signature ambiance, unique mixed vocal styles, intricate songwriting and the addition of a few well placed acoustic passages.

Pros:
Dark Matter Gods
Celestial Effigy
Plateau of the Ages

Cons:
Lacks any real true stand out tracks.
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