Hailing from the misty forests of Portland Oregon, Agalloch has earned themselves a substantial cult following with their blend of atmospheric black metal that incorporates folk and ambient elements, producing several critically acclaimed albums and EPs over the last decade. The White EP continues on with the band’s distinguished tradition with a renewed emphasis on the neo-folk aspect of their sound, mostly relying on acoustic guitars, hushed vocals and atmospheric effects to get to black heart of this dark genre.
The White EP is essentially calls for a return to nature, as the songs conjure images of snow covered wilderness (”Birch White”), contemplative seclusion (”Isle of Summer”) and paganism’s worship of the elements (”Sowilo Rune”). The whole experience, made complete with natural sound effects like chirping and rustling, is meditative and comforting, conveying a deep and eternal connection with our natural surroundings. The delicate piano lines that grace the final two tracks carefully lead us out of the forest and into the cold twilight, confirming that Agalloch’s intentions give credence to emotional appeals rather than sheer volume. The White EP, steeped in mellow atmosphere and naturalistic overtones, vividly captures the haunting beauty of winter. While these songs never reach the chilling climaxes the band has conquered on their previous full lengths, they still manage to build on the folk traditions that make their sound seem so natural and unique. It will interesting to see where the new paths explored here will lead to on their next LP. Recommended.