the-serpent-and-the-sphereReleased: May 2014

If the Viking invasion of Britain back in the day had required a soundtrack, Agalloch could well have been an outside choice. Combining acoustic folk passages with doom riffs and the scything growls of shamanic frontman John Haughm, their brand of progressive storytelling sounds like it was shaped in the midst of war.

Kicking off with the stormy mouthful of Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation, it becomes apparent that Agalloch do not trade in the art of boy meets girl pop rock.

The kind of album that belongs as a collective rather than individual songs, the tempest and turmoil of lengthy tune Plateau of the Ages sits alongside shorter barrages of battle cries like The Astral Dialogue.

Prog and doom fans will either lap this up or join the ranks of men marching north to the Wall a la Game of Thrones, but either way it’s meaty stuff.

★★★