Gallowbraid - Ashen Eidolon
Northern Silence Productions
Ambient Black/Folk Metal
4 songs (31'39")
Release year: 2010
Northern Silence
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

It is hard for me to say why the images associated with Ireland and something overall Celtic revolved in my head when I first experienced Gallowbraid debut mini-CD Ashen Eidolon. The band, mostly manned by one J. Rogers, except the drums performed by his brother A. Rogers and some backing female vocals, is American and it is calling Salt Lake City, Utah, home. That locale is not really famous for its lush green meadows or sunlit forests (see cover), but perhaps it was the clamoring rousing classic Irish riff which leads of the opening title track which was responsible for my first impression. Upon second thought, that riff is rather universal for quality ambient black metal wherever it comes from, although if you heard the likes of Primordial and Darkest Era, you might have shared my initial feelings.

After further spins of two lengthy compositions and a pair of shorter acoustic instrumentals on this mini-album, my association geography moved me closer to home, at least to the North American continent, having placed Gallowbraid as a quality band in the Agalloch company. Providing guitars which flow on a pair of levels, darker riff background and cleaner melody/leads, J. Rogers’ music is largely instrumental. The vocals, when they appear are also of bi-level nature, some cleaner, but mostly whispery darker druidic harsh incantations. Yes, Haughm does come to mind. At times gentle, like Opeth Harvest or Lake of Tears Forever Autumn, the beginning of Oaken Halls of Sorrow develops, showing that nature can be just as stout as it is beautiful. The clean guitar takes on a sound of a wind instrument (fill in a clarinet or oboe), before the final chapter still stubbornly says Ireland with that from deep in the woods melody you can only hear around a campfire. The glimpses of acoustic guitar in the title track are augmented with a spring thaw droplets falling down before a female voice impersonating mother Earth takes over. What follows is one of those interludes with a rich electroacoustic guitar, flute and a capello voice which does not need the title of Autumn I for you to know what season of the year it was inspired by.

Ashen Eidolon is a very strong opening statement by a quantity totally unknown. Many critics might have the Agalloch similarities overemphasized, but I felt Gallowbraid had enough of its own individual voice. As of the date of Ashen Eidolon release a full-length was in the works.

Killing Songs :
Ashen Eidolon, Oaken Halls of Sorrow
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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