At the height of their popularity
and after their 2012 album ‘Prisoners’
(their most solid album till date), The
Agonist announced in March last year that vocalist Alissa White-Gluz would be leaving them to join Arch Enemy and would be replaced with
vocalist Vicky Psarakis onboth clean
and growl vocals. After less than a year, they are ready with the new album, ‘Eye of Providence’.
centred on themes like moral concerns, animal rights, societal topics and the general
state of the world we live in. The band has had a varied musical style with
abstract sound structures and dynamism to the addition of the both clean and
heavy vocals. But did this recent line up change have a big impact on the
band’s sound? Let’s see.
after ‘Prisoners’, as The Agonist has been seen so far to have a chaotic but
precise, and almost progressive music sense with their previous offering. But “Gates of Horn and Ivory” starts with
less ferocious riffage than expected. Vicky Psarakis’ growls sound aggressive
but not as powerful, though her clean vocals give out a controlled vocal
length. The song surely makes you headbang, and the little guitar solo snippets
by Danny Marino show why Agonist has
always stood in the first place. However, by the time “My Witness, Your Victim” starts, you can already feel an element
of sameness here; and it’s not even the
third song yet. Disappointment creeps in with the lack of complexity and craziness
in this record. There are headbangable moments here, but they are taken away
instantly with the clean vocals and the almost mainstream chorus parts that
remind you of the generic “female-fronted metal” tag.
creative and powerful intro riffs in songs like “Danse Macabre”, “I Endeavour” and “Faceless Messenger” transition into monotony by the time you start
enjoying them. The song structures are repetitively agonizing and dull, which
is heartbreaking because there is a lot of talent here demonstrated by
everyone. Psarakis surely can match Alissa, if not surpass her, but the
limitations and over-produced song structures deem otherwise. There is
something holding The Agonist back
here; whether it is their attempt to match the success of ‘Prisoners’ or the accessible sound of this record as a whole is
“Perpetual Notion” suddenly changes the mood of the album, sounding
ferocious and groovy after the otherwise acoustic intro, with both the growls
and the clean vocals sounding much more impressive. The band shows
experimentation again from this point, with Vicky showcasing her memorable
melodies and brutal growls. Drummer Simon
McKay sounds more innovative and frankly just unstoppable.
breakdowns coupled with Vicky’s beautiful vocal range are nothing less than incredible.
Guitarists Danny Marino and Pascal Jobin
spit out amazing guitar solos, riffs and pinch harmonics. “Architects
Hallucinate” starts with an alluring intro, and drives straight into the
depths of hell with Vicky’s vocals coupled with the riffage, which perfectly
complement each other. “Disconnect Me” starts
in perfect melodic death fashion with a relentless pace, with Vicky perfecting
the “beauty and beast” form of vocals with ease. That being said, the dynamic “Follow the Crossed Line” is easily one
of the stronger tracks on the album.
Gentle Disease” both showcase only clean vocals (a rather mundane thing to
say here), with the latter being more of an acoustic ballad and interlude. Nevertheless,
it puts bassist Chris Kells in the
driving seat by flaunting an ambient Bass-driven outro , which is easily one of
the most memorable parts of the album. However, the seven–minute long “As Above, So
Below” seems unnecessary, surely being the bands experimental take,. It becomes
a chore to listen to, giving a rather weak end to the album.
to be because of this significant line-up change. Vocalist Vicky Psarakis has
made a powerful debut here, but could have better with her lyric placement,
timing and execution. Being an average album (with its moments, of course), I
see this as more of a “debut” for their new era. I do hope that by the next
album, they might become more powerful than before.