Agalloch is an American metal band formed in 1995 in Portland, Oregon. The band is led by vocalist and guitarist John Haughm and so far have released four full-length albums, four limited EPs, two demos, one split album, one compilation album and one live video album.Formation and early years (1995–1997)Agalloch began as the creation of John Haughm and Shane Breyer, named after the resinous wood of the Agarwood (Aquilaria agallocha). In early 1996, the duo began producing songs and, during the summer, Don Anderson joined the band to further refine the material. These songs would later become the From Which of This Oak demo tape in the autumn of that year. This recording showed a large amount of black metal influence, with an amount of material which would later appear on subsequent albums in one form or another. Shortly after the recording, Jason William Walton was added to the line up as bassist.Pale Folklore and Of Stone, Wind and Pillor (1998–2001)In 1998, the three recorded a new demo tape solely for labels. It caught the attention of The End Records, who offered them a record contract, resulting in the Pale Folklore album. The album features less of a black metal influence than before, many totally reworked demo songs, more folk elements and neoclassical interludes. The album was met with much critical acclaim. After the recording was complete, Breyer departed from the band lineup due to lack of interest in music.After a period of quiet, the band released an EP of unreleased material from 1998-2001 entitled Of Stone, Wind and Pillor, revealing more of a neoclassical and experimental element. The EP also includes a cover of neofolk band Sol Invictus' "Kneel to the Cross" that would later be released on Sol Lucet Omnibus, French label Cynerfierrd's tribute compilation to Sol Invictus.The Mantle (2002–2005)During the 2001 to early 2002 period, Agalloch recorded The Mantle, featuring more of a post-rock influence. The album sleeve art contains photographs of public statues and fountains found in downtown Portland. This album marked a change in media attention for Agalloch, landing them interviews with a few mainstream magazines.Following the release of The Mantle, Agalloch played their first show on March 6, 2003 in Portland, Oregon. This was followed by a few shows in March and a US west coast tour in May.In 2003 Tomorrow Will Never Come was released, and in 2004 The Grey was released. These EPs showcased an even more experimental side of Agalloch, featuring remixed and reworked versions of songs from The Mantle as well as a new post-rock-influenced title track on Tomorrow Will Never Come. Agalloch also performed a series of shows on the US and Canada east coast in 2004.A nature-themed split 10" picture disc EP with the Finnish band Nest was also released in 2004, showcasing a collaborative, neofolk effort by Agalloch. The Nest track was a more electronic, percussion-heavy effort with vocals and guitar contributed by Haughm and Anderson.2005 saw double vinyl re-releases of The Mantle and Pale Folklore in limited wooden boxes, complete with new artwork for both albums. It was only available to commemorate the band's single 2005 live performance at Day of the Equinox, a music festival held in Toronto on October 14, 2005.Ashes Against the Grain and The White (2006–2008)Ashes Against the Grain was released on August 8, 2006 by The End Records, featuring less focus on The Mantle's prominent acoustic guitars and instead more emphasis on electric guitars and metal elements, giving the album a different sound from that of their previous releases.On February 29, 2008, Agalloch released The White, the second half (and stylistic opposite) of their 2-part EP release for Vendlus Records. This was a collection of dark folk/ambient work from between the years 2004 and 2007. The sound had reverted away from the sound of their last release, Ashes Against the Grain, and is more akin to the acoustic guitar sound of The Mantle. The tracks "The Isle of Summer", "Sowilo Rune" and "Summerisle Reprise", are themed on The Wicker Man, with all three tracks utilizing samples from the film. Also, the track "Birch White" borrows its lyrics from a song by A.S.J. Tessimond titled "Birch Tree". The track "Sowilo Rune" was posted on their MySpace roughly two months before the album was released. As with The Grey, the album was limited to 2,000 copies.The Demonstration Archive and Marrow of the Spirit (2008-2013)On August 4, 2008, Agalloch released a compilation album called The Demonstration Archive. It was a compilation of material recorded in between 1996 and 1998 that came from From Which of This Oak, the then-unreleased Of Stone, Wind and Pillor, and their 1998 promo album. Ashes Against the Grain completed the band's contract with The End Records and in April 2008 the band decided against renewing the contract.On August 12, 2009, the demo From Which of This Oak was re-released as a picture disk through the German label Eisenwald.Agalloch recorded a track with German artist Mathias Grassow for the compilation album, Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (English: "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog") released by Pest Productions in March 2010 and distributed by Prophecy Productions. The track is named "Nebelmeer".Agalloch released a two-CD compilation album named The Compendium Archive on March 20, 2010; this release was restricted to 250 copies. The album was intended to be sold exclusively at two shows played by the band in Romania during March 2010; however, 85 unsold copies were subsequently sold by the band during May 2010 on eBay. Disc one is an exact copy of The Demonstration Archive. Disc two contains material recorded during the 2000-2006 period and previously released on Of Stone, Wind and Pillor, Tomorrow Will Never Come, the split with Nest, alternative versions of tracks from The Mantle and Ashes Against the Grain and some previously unreleased tracks.On June 7, 2010, Agalloch posted a blog on the band's official MySpace page stating that the fourth album would be released under the Profound Lore label, which also released the first two Agalloch albums on vinyl in 2005. The band stated the album will be recorded throughout June and July 2010 but did not comment on the album's title or release date.On September 21, 2010, Agalloch officially announced the title of their fourth full-length as Marrow of the Spirit. The album was released in mid-November on Canadian independent record label Profound Lore Records.In an interview with Exclaim! magazine, in regards to the production of Marrow of the Spirit, Jon Haughm states, “We wanted an album that sounded more alive and real....Our last album was a bit too mechanized, too polished, and that kind of disturbed us. So we brought back the older methods that we had utilized on our demos and first album to try and get back a more organic feeling.”On June 26, 2012, Agalloch released an EP entitled Faustian Echoes, which consists of just one 21-minute-long song (the longest song Agalloch has ever written). Agalloch toured North America in July and August 2012 to support this new release.The Serpent & The Sphere (2013-Present)On October 13, 2013, Agalloch stated they have "a new album in the works" On January 31, 2014 Agalloch announced that their new album The Serpent & The Sphere will be released on May 13. The album, just like their previous album Marrow of the Spirit, will be released on Profound Lore Records.StyleAgalloch performs a progressive and avant-garde style of folk metal that encompasses an eclectic range of tendencies including neofolk, post-rock, black metal and doom metal.Common themes in Agalloch's imagery and subject matter are natural beauty, melancholy and allusions to ancestral Heathenry.One of the non-traditional instruments Agalloch has been known to use is the skull of a deer. In the song "The Lodge" John Haughm strikes the deer skull in order to create an unusual clicking sound.In a 1999 interview done by Dan Tobin with Jason William Walton and John Haughm the band members have cited other influences including Katatonia, Ulver, The 3rd and the Mortal, Swans, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. In another interview with metal-rules.com, the band cites filmmakers such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jim Jarmusch, and Ingmar Bergman as influences.ThemesAgalloch's music defines the use of their themes at many points. Don Anderson's proficiency with the language puts the band in a prime position to be able to put out stellar material from the lyrical aspect. Conceptually, Agalloch always border towards the more abrasive, abstract themes surrounding melancholy and life. The band does not stop here, though; their later work shows how adaptive they are with literary works and finding subtle mixes for the Gothic pieces of literature as showcased on Faustian Echoes.The unmistakable blend of both folk infused as well darker music gives Agalloch plenty of room to evolve on the atmospheric scale. This is the prime reason why the band focuses so much on sound density as a compositional tool in many of their songs relying on it almost as total ambiance to often explain their lyrical concepts.