Agalloch Announce Breakup [Updated]
Update: John Haughm has released a statement that the future of the band is uncertain, confirming he is the only member of the Agalloch lineup left. His statement can be read in full at the bottom of the post.
We had almost made it through a Friday the 13th without any devastation... almost. It is with a heavy heart that we report that Agalloch have officially split up after 21 years of dedication to their genre-bending craft.
The Oregon-based outfit announced the disbandment through their Facebook page, thanking those who helped Agalloch achieve all their success in one, all-encompassing statement:
Since their formation in 1995, they released five full length efforts and five additional EPs, all with a special place in the metal pantheon. Their debut, Pale Folklore, was an instant game-changer with its injection of melancholic melodies, folk elements, clever arrangements and John Haughm's ghastly vocal rasp. In 1999, black metal was still largely primitive with some bands branching out in more progressive directions or inching toward black 'n' roll stylings. Agalloch were able to breathe new life into the genre, inspiring countless others along the way ushering in cascadian black metal.
Their sophomore effort, The Mantle, is considered to be their best effort by fans and critics alike, though the debate will surely remain unsettled for years and decades to come. Their ability to weave awe-inspiring passages around a black metal core served as the genre's Opeth so to speak, and the band would go on to gain a die-hard following much in vein of the Swedish innovators.
Time changes all bands, but Agalloch remained true to their sonic values on their studio albums, utilizing EPs as a platform to exercise their other proclivities, whether it be the folk and ambient stylings of The White or the raw, lo-fi black metal aesthetics of the single-track Faustian Echoes, which is counterbalanced by some of the more familiar, airy facets of the Agalloch sound.
I remember discovering the group while thumbing through an issue of the now-defunct Metal Maniacs, where they ran an interview with Haughm surrounding the release of the third Agalloch album, Ashes Against the Grain. As a junior in high school, I was still unaware of the extensive metal community outside of my infinitely small bubble of a few friends in town. The music was personal and I never envisioned I'd watch a band like Agalloch grow to staggering popularity.
This coalesced at Irving Plaza in New York City in 2014 when the band was on the road supporting what is now their final release, The Serpent and the Sphere (No. 11 on our 20 Best Metal Albums of 2014). The capacity crowd stood transfixed as Agalloch performed a two hour set and received a positively overwhelming response from a room seemingly eager for another two hours. I felt proud to have witnessed a band like this rise to such popularity while remaining unwavering in their presentation and as true to the values that sparked the band's formation in the first place.
We'll await new music from mastermind John Haughm and his stellar supporting cast and, if it isn't too soon, hope for a reunion at some point in the future, or maybe, "When all is withered and torn / And all has perished and fallen / These great wooden doors shall remain closed."
Thanks for the music and the memories, Agalloch.
After being flooded with messages, Haughm posted a message to his Facebook page, stating,
After being inundated by a barrage of responses, I feel that I should clarify some things. I take full responsibility for the decision to part ways with the other guys. It was difficult, well thought-out, and something that had been culminating over the past couple of years. I simply could not continue any further with the band as it was. I had to make a change as my motivation and inspiration had started to completely deteriorate. Whether this is the permanent end of Agalloch altogether or a possible fresh start, I don't know. I probably won't know for awhile. The band has simply been reduced back to its founding member for the first time in 20 years. Beyond that, the future is unknown.
- J. Haughm
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