I'd like to start this piece by saying that I was given the assignment to write about the Agalloch re-issues before the band broke up. I doubt that many of you want to read another Agalloch thinkpiece at this particular juncture, and I'm a little bit at a loss for what I want to write about here too. Neil Jameson pretty much wrote all that needed to be said in his Decibel piece. It's a weird and emotionally trying time for all of us. Agalloch matter a whole lot to a whole lot of people. I'm currently on tour with Tengger Cavalry, the Mongolian Folk Metal band who I manage. We have a lot of fans who run in the same circles as Agalloch fans and so every night at the merch table I end up talking to a fan, upset by the breakup of their favorite band.
As someone who kinda sorta knows a lot of the people involved in the band, I've been hesitant to form up a public opinion. What has struck me though is simply how many people are freaking out about this. It speaks to the enduring impact of the band that I could have really long involved conversations about the legacy of Agalloch all across the nation with people of every cultural and social background. It's well known that the band's guitarist, Don Anderson was a college professor, but I didn't expect quite as many college professors to come up and chat with me about the band. Nor did I expect as many dudes in the trades out in the Midwest to care about Agalloch, but they do too.
I think that living in New York, it's easy to view Agalloch as a band who primarily appealed to educated white people, even if that was by no means the band's goal. I always just assumed that was how it was. I'm increasingly realizing that this was never the case. Agalloch was for everybody, and that somehow makes the loss of the band all the more profound. I've spoken to a lot of people who were legitimately excited for these vinyl re-issues, and more than a few who have wondered if this was all a marketing ploy. Trust me, it wasn't. Instead, we have to sit here, dismal in the realization that there is no hope for the likes of us fans, not anymore.
Agalloch was a band who inspired passion and anytime a band like that breaks up there is going to be a void. They were a band who radically changed the future of black metal. Sure, you can talk about how much they rip off the first Ulver record, but let's be real, the band was able to invoke so much more than that. Ulver hasn't done much in the ways of black metal for years now and many, myself included, only found out about Ulver through Agalloch. They represented a new way forward through the black metal inferno and cultivated an aesthetic that was truly American.
Agalloch represented a new way forward through the black metal inferno and cultivated an aesthetic that was truly American. Agalloch was one of the main bands to move black metal from being something for fanatics and high-mindeded romantics and into something that NPR could write about – for better or for worse.
So I guess that means that these re-issues coming out July 15th on The End Records are really just a capstone on what was an epic career. People are going to think that it as well timed PR move, but it really wasn't. Instead let's use these re-issues as a look back and to remember what was and what could have been. I kept with the original title of this article despite everything because the re-issues do prove that Agalloch still rule, and no amount of grandstanding or poserdom is going to take away from that. This music exists for now and forever.
I'm going to keep traveling across the country. I'm going to keep hearing stories about Agalloch, and as people find out that I know a handful of the people involved they are going to keep asking me for the true story. All I can say is this – it seems fairly obvious that John was the only one who wanted to take this band all the way. Everyone else didn't feel the need to take the world by storm, and that ultimately led to a lot of broken hearts and fall aparts. What really matters is that Agalloch remain important in so many of our hearts. They will always be a band who changed all of our lives and who proved to us that there is a whole lot more to this black metal shit than most folks would ever fess up to.