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Agalloch In Concert

Agalloch performing live at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, March 22, 2011. (Samantha Marble for NPR)

"We've played a tiny village in Belgium three times, but we've never played the grandest city in America until tonight," John Haughm said between "Into the Painted Grey" and "Falling Snow" at Agalloch's first-ever live performance in New York City in its 15-year history.

Devil horns were raised triumphantly in celebration at Le Poisson Rouge, though Agalloch and its fellow Portland-based opening acts (Worm Ouroboros, Daniel Menche and Aeriel Ruin) never invoked the southern lord. Unlike its black-metal peers, Agalloch has never incorporated the depths of hell and blasphemy into its aesthetic. It's not an attempt at crossover, though last year's excellent Marrow of the Spirit certainly attracted new fans and topped many year-end lists (mine included), but rather a channel for Haughm's ruminations on nature, ruins and healing. And, really, Agalloch has never been a traditional black-metal band, taking its early influences from folk and now seamlessly ingesting progressive and post-rock into its sound.

Surrounded by banners adorned with elk, with incense lit at the front of the stage, Agalloch's performance felt like a savagely beautiful and personal ritual we watched from the floor. With a set list featuring songs from Marrow of the Spirit, fan favorite Ashes Against the Grain ("Falling Snow," "Limbs," "Bloodbirds") and other previous albums, there were tiny revelations that Agalloch has been moving toward its current sound all along.

  • "Into the Painted Grey"

  • "Falling Snow"

  • "The Watcher's Monolith"

  • "Of Stone, Wind and Pillor"

  • "Limbs"

  • "Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires"

  • "Our Fortress is Burning... II: Bloodbirds"

  • "Dead Winter Days"

  • "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion"

If you want to see Agalloch in action, NYC concert documenters Unartig has some great footage of "Into the Painted Grey" and the closing encore, "In the Shadow of Our Pale Companion."

Mixed by Bill Bowen.

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