Release date: 13 May 2014
Style: Atmospheric black metal, Neofolk

Rating:

8.3 | 317 votes

Owners:

260 have it
86 want it


01. Birth And Death Of The Pillars Of Creation
02. (Serpens Caput)
03. The Astral Dialogue
04. Dark Matter Gods
05. Celestial Effigy
06. Cor Serpentis (The Sphere)
07. Vales Beyond Dimension
08. Plateau Of The Ages
09. (Serpens Cauda)
10. Omega Serpentis [Japanese bonus]
11. Sigma Serpentis [Japanese bonus]

Top 20 albums of 2014: 14

Review
Lyrics (9)


Line-up
John Haughm - vocals, guitars, percussion, zither
Don Anderson - guitars, mellotron, backing vocals
Aesop Dekker - drums, percussion
Jason William Walton - bass

Additional musicians:
Nathanaël Larochette - acoustic guitars
B. Anderson - piano, throat singing
Veleda Thorsson - electric saw, waterphone
R. Sforcina - synthesizers, oscillation & wires


Additional info
Produced by Billy Anderson and Agalloch.

Recorded at Cloud City and mixed at Everything Hz by Billy Anderson. Guest appearance by guitarist Nathanaël Larochette of Musk Ox, who wrote and provided the album's acoustic interludes.

Staff review by
R'Vannith

Rating:
8.3
Agalloch have never favoured doom as forcefully as they have on The Serpent & The Sphere. So blatantly delivered, it would appear that this new resolve has completely shattered their ability and will to instil the expected level of atmosphere in their fifth full-length effort. But appearances can be deceiving.

Read more ››
published 13.05.2014 | Comments (41)

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Comments page 5 of 5

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MHShokuhi - 08.06.2014 at 20:44  
Rating: 8 An awesome album, great if i want to judge it separate from their original style, anyway, i did't like the new theme, it has more doom material than before and i think it's parting from the old Agalloch i love...
it's great in it's own way and i love it, but hoped it was like before
JayMo4 - 10.06.2014 at 14:22  
Rating: 9 As I said in the Agalloch best album thread, my favorite thing about this band is that they manage to reinvent themselves with each new release. That's something I respect an awful lot artistically, but it is also risky as a business decision. If you're a popular band and change styles, there are going to be a lot of fans of your older stuff that shit all over you for not just rehashing the stuff that they fell in love with years ago. Meanwhile, if you get high ratings from the critics, the people that didn't like you to start with are going to be even more annoyed at your success and claim that you're overrated even more loudly than usual.

Don't get me wrong; sometimes the new stuff just isn't as good as the old stuff (sorry, Katatonia.) But many times, the new stuff is very good in its own right. I think that is the case here. Where will I see it fitting in to the discography overall? That's hard to say until I've had time to fully absorb it and reflect on it. But I definitely like it, and appreciate the band's willingness to try something new with each record.
Dangerboner - 11.06.2014 at 12:36  
Rating: 6 Very disappointed with this. Just... boring
Aratharr - 16.06.2014 at 03:02  
Rating: 8 I seems to lack a lot of the memorable and beautiful moments that albums like The Mantle or Ashes Against the Grain had.
Rsrdaman - 22.06.2014 at 11:23  
Rating: 9 Well, this band seems to now be subject to "Metallica Syndrome"

Everyone is complaining about how its not as good as the Mantle or Ashes against the Grain. Simply because this album is not as great as the previous albums, it gets shit on, akin to Metallica's Load, which was a fairly great rock album, just for not being dictionary definition thrash.

This album is great, "Celestial Effigy" already becoming one of my favorite Agalloch songs. This album is every bit "Agalloch" as the rest of them. Bands need to eventually progress, otherwise we get things like Slayer, who just release generic thrash music that isn't very original.

8.9/10
Karlabos - 22.06.2014 at 15:41  
Rating: 6
Written by Rsrdaman on 22.06.2014 at 11:23

Well, this band seems to now be subject to "Metallica Syndrome"
Everyone is complaining about how its not as good as the Mantle or Ashes against the Grain. Simply because this album is not as great as the previous albums, it gets shit on, akin to Metallica's Load, which was a fairly great rock album, just for not being dictionary definition thrash.

Yeah, any band that manages to become relatively famous and release more than a couple albums will suffer from that.
Those who have heard their first stuff as an introduction to the genre will carry the "first contact" feeling inside themselves and unconsciously associate that with those first albums...
Then whenever they hear something new by that band, if it's on the same line as their previous works, they'll not get that "first contact" feeling again and claim that it's boring or that the band is copying itself.
And if the band tries to release something new, different form their previous stuff, they'll say that the change sucks and the previous works were infinitely better. The band can never win.

I think it can also be carried to more unknown bands on the same genre. For instance, an underground band can make something based on Agalloch's works which sounds every bit as well written and everything, but on the head of the listener he isn't listening to what he associated Agalloch's first albums with, and thus it will always seem worse than Agalloch's stuff. Meaning that no folk/doom/black band can ever be as good as Agalloch or something like that. That's why underground bands keep underrated =P
Troy Killjoy - 22.06.2014 at 17:30  
  Why are people bringing up Metallica and Slayer in an Agalloch album thread? Load is a crap album regardless of genre and has nothing to do with being compared to Metallica's previous works. As a stand-alone album it isn't any better or worse than when held up against the likes of their thrash material from the '80s. This album, however, still follows the same formula Agalloch have become renowned for. It doesn't stray from the path they've been walking since they formed as a band, but it is far more straightforward and doesn't have the same enveloping atmosphere as Ashes or The Mantle.

That's what people are complaining about (or not, depending on what you're looking for from this). It has nothing to do with this so-called Metallica syndrome.
mz - 23.06.2014 at 02:10  
Rating: 7 This is rapidly losing its value for me. Think that it's even worse than MotS, which at least had stand out track with great atmosphere. This one, on the other hand, is flat and dry.
Rsrdaman - 23.06.2014 at 06:42  
Rating: 9
Written by Troy Killjoy on 22.06.2014 at 17:30

Why are people bringing up Metallica and Slayer in an Agalloch album thread? Load is a crap album regardless of genre and has nothing to do with being compared to Metallica's previous works. As a stand-alone album it isn't any better or worse than when held up against the likes of their thrash material from the '80s. This album, however, still follows the same formula Agalloch have become renowned for. It doesn't stray from the path they've been walking since they formed as a band, but it is far more straightforward and doesn't have the same enveloping atmosphere as Ashes or The Mantle.

That's what people are complaining about (or not, depending on what you're looking for from this). It has nothing to do with this so-called Metallica syndrome.


You just did exactly what I was talking about in my previous post. You along with many others continually say things like "doesn't have the same enveloping atmosphere as Ashes or The Mantle", making this album lesser by comparison. Just because it isn't like its predecessors, its bad? Put this album standalone from a new underground band and it would have no doubt gotten much higher ratings.
Troy Killjoy - 23.06.2014 at 06:53  
 
Written by Rsrdaman on 23.06.2014 at 06:42
You just did exactly what I was talking about in my previous post. You along with many others continually say things like "doesn't have the same enveloping atmosphere as Ashes or The Mantle", making this album lesser by comparison. Just because it isn't like its predecessors, its bad? Put this album standalone from a new underground band and it would have no doubt gotten much higher ratings.

This album is lesser than its predecessors by comparison because it's simply derivative of those albums without expanding upon the sound. It isn't unlike its predecessors at all actually, which (if anything) is a big reason why people claim that it's one of the weakest - if not the weakest - Agalloch album to date.

Put this album standalone from a new underground band and the only people who would likely care about it are the ones who make a concerted effort to dig that kind of stuff up. Because this is an Agalloch album it's getting all kinds of widespread attention and with that comes expectations from fans and newcomers alike. While that might make for some unwarranted negative reactions (we all know how hype tends to impact mainstream appeal), overall I think people (particularly users on Metal Storm) are judging this according to what they hear rather than basing it on how similar or dissimilar it is to previous Agalloch albums.
Ag Fox - 23.06.2014 at 17:19  
Rating: 6 If it was released by some other underground band, it would get labelled as Agalloch clones / wannabes anyway
Slayer666 - 25.06.2014 at 01:13  
Rating: 8 Very solid stuff. Like many have said already, this probably is Agalloch's weakest effort, but that's actually a testament to how good their back catalog is.

It's more simplistic and streamlined compared to their other stuff, which is not necessarily a bad thing, so I'll consider this Agalloch's "fun" album. It delivers a signature Agalloch style without requiring too much attention, so it's almost tailor-made for some easy listening, when you want something like Agalloch but not quite as taxing. Agalloch "lite", if you prefer.
Himedal - 28.06.2014 at 18:12  
Rating: 9 I couldn't relate to it at first but now I am in love with it. reminds me of the early works. very well done. Always my favorite band.
timtim - 18.07.2014 at 18:12  
Rating: 6 Im not into this one...
Winterheir - 20.07.2014 at 05:35  
Rating: 7
Written by Troy Killjoy on 23.06.2014 at 06:53

Written by Rsrdaman on 23.06.2014 at 06:42
You just did exactly what I was talking about in my previous post. You along with many others continually say things like "doesn't have the same enveloping atmosphere as Ashes or The Mantle", making this album lesser by comparison. Just because it isn't like its predecessors, its bad? Put this album standalone from a new underground band and it would have no doubt gotten much higher ratings.

This album is lesser than its predecessors by comparison because it's simply derivative of those albums without expanding upon the sound. It isn't unlike its predecessors at all actually, which (if anything) is a big reason why people claim that it's one of the weakest - if not the weakest - Agalloch album to date.

Put this album standalone from a new underground band and the only people who would likely care about it are the ones who make a concerted effort to dig that kind of stuff up. Because this is an Agalloch album it's getting all kinds of widespread attention and with that comes expectations from fans and newcomers alike. While that might make for some unwarranted negative reactions (we all know how hype tends to impact mainstream appeal), overall I think people (particularly users on Metal Storm) are judging this according to what they hear rather than basing it on how similar or dissimilar it is to previous Agalloch albums.


I agree with these sentiments. The Serpent & The Sphere does sound very sonically similar to the band's previous works and atmospherically it especially reminds me of Ashes Against The Grain. I understand Agalloch were trying to go with a more "cosmic" theme this time around but the music, to my ears, doesn't really reflect this - it still all sounds very earthy and "rooted" if you will. I do not fault the band for sounding like, well, themselves and I do like The Serpent & The Sphere more than Marrow Of The Spirit (which is my least favorite release of theirs but that's another story) but it does seem that the band is losing a bit of steam somewhere though I admit that it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is. All the same, I think it's a good album but not amidst Agalloch's best.

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