Sound — 10
When I first got my hands on this album, I was eager to hear what has been hailed as Agalloch's greatest CD. I can now say, without hesitation, that this album is well worth the praise it gets. Each song is brilliantly atmospheric and paints a picture into the head of the listener. The Mantle opens up with a brooding instrumental on'called "A Celebration For The Death Of Man..." This song quickly gives way to "In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion", my personal favorite track on the album. From then on the album is a brilliant sea of great music, ending with the melancholy "Desolation Song", a quite spoke word piece accompanied by an acoustic guitar, accordian, and mandolin. This album also expands on Agalloch's usage of post-rock elements. This is particularly evident on the instrumentals "The Hawthorne Passage" and "The Lodge".
Lyrics — 10
Lyrics and vocals take a back seat in this, largely instrumental album. Four of the nine songs are instrumental pieces. However, the vocals that are present are very well done. The lyrics, reciting typical themes of Agalloch (nature, love, death), are also very well written. A fine example of both singing and lyricism is to be found in "In The Shadow Of Our Pale Companion". It should be noted that if you are in the market for a mainly vocal album, than this album is not what you're looking for. However, if you enjoy instrumentalism, then this is your album.
Overall Impression — 10
The Mantle is Agalloch's finest album to date. Each song on this album is excellently composed, atmospheric, and emotional. This album is well worth the praise it receives. One thing that may turn off many listeners is the reletively scare amounts of vocals. However, if you can get past this slight flaw, then you are in for some amazing music.