Sound — 9
The White EP is Agalloch's sequel to 2004's 'The Grey', which was made up of two, quite frankly, very poor remixes of songs from their masterpiece 'The Mantle'. 'The White' is meant to be a compilation of sorts, of dark folk and ambient tracks written by the band members between 2004 and 2007. It's mostly absent of vocals (though Agalloch's music is hardly filled with them anyway), and the tracks are made up of a lot of acoustic, cold atmosphere. Most of the music really isn't far removed from their last full length, 'Ashes Against The Grain', there is only a real absence in beats, which gives the music a far more calming nature. If you're new to Agalloch, their music is a very dark blend of folk, doom metal and ambient music, among other things. The White is best described in that way, if you take out the doom metal. The soundscapes make use of many different instruments and are blended in a way that can be engaged with and actively listened to or used simply as mellow background music. That is a very fine balance and something that Agalloch have created masterfully.
Lyrics — 9
There are very few lyrics in this entire album, in fact the only real lyrics are a few verses in the folk tune 'Birch White', as the only other words to be heard are samples in 'Sowilo Rune' and 'The Isle Of Summer' and its reprise, 'Summerisle Reprise'. However, all of them provide the usual Agalloch atmospherics in the imagery and nature-orientation. Their lyrics have always flowed poetically and The White is no exception, though the lyrics on this EP are far from the focal point.
Overall Impression — 9
If you have a hard time getting into Agalloch due to their metal elements, then this is probably the release for you. It's chilled out, caked with smoothness and a subtle beauty that few artists making this sort of music could achieve. The true aim of any ambient music is to create mellow and calm music to listen to in the background, yet provide the listener with something beautiful that can be listened to at any time. With The White, Agalloch join greats like Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream, and the obvious highlight of the album 'Sowilo Rune' is quite honestly one of the greatest songs this band has released. The disc as a whole can't be compared to Agalloch's full lengths, as it is quite a different project, but it most certainly holds its ground as an Agalloch release and provides us with some of their most interesting musical journeys.