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Agony Reigns – The Tragedy In Understanding Nothing

Agony Reigns
The Tragedy In Understanding Nothing
by Thomas Kumke at 06 March 2022, 8:25 PM

AGONY REIGNS hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota were formed in 2017. Initially formed as POWERHOUSE in 2014, they play a mix of melodic Metalcore and Thrash Metal. They released three demos, one EP, and two live albums prior to their full-length debut. “The Tragedy In Understanding Nothing” was produced by Elliot Merriman and AGONY REIGNS, and mixed and mastered by Nick Pocock. It is an independent release, and it has a length of about 45 minutes.

AGONY REIGNS has a relatively short history, but they have been pretty active since their beginning in terms of releases. The three demos and the 2019 EP “Death From Within” are one thing, but having released two live albums before having a full-length debut is remarkable (even though the first live album is more an EP with five songs). Listening to their past material pointed me towards AGONY REIGNS diversity in musical direction. After all this, I was curious what their debut album would have to offer.

After the instrumental intro “I”, “The Tragedy In Understanding Nothing” really kicks off with “Necrosis”, a fast paced track with tight guitar riffing, crunching bass lines, and harsh vocals that sound Metalcore inspired. The vocals are mostly at the upper end of the guttural range with some screams and deep growling backing vocals. The track includes a very contributing lead guitar solo, which is the highlight of “Necrosis”. The song was released as official video with the YouTube link given below.

Ruination” is an aggressive mid-tempo track with very direct and heavy, Thrash Metal inspired riffing. The Thrash Metal vibes are written all over the song particularly during the blisteringly fast middle part. The vocals sound much better compared to “Necrosis” with more diversity and anger. “Ruination” is one of the album highlights. “Beyond Death” maintains the mid-tempo and the Thrash Metal sound with some added melodic Metalcore inspirations during the second half of the track. It takes off aggression but adds atmosphere and melancholic melodies including extra clean vocals by Lydia Stark. “Decadent Demise” has a strong start with heavy and powerful guitar riffing at a measured tempo before it transitions into a fast Thrash Metal track with almost neoclassical lead guitar melodies. While the vocals surely transport anger and aggression, they are often suited better to Metalcore than to Thrash Metal sound and it does not really fit together in “Decadent Demise”.

The starting riffs of “Extinction” sound pretty familiar to me as someone with a Thrash Metal history, especially when it comes to the high-speed transition with the staccato riffing, which reminds on EXODUS. The chorus sections have the Metalcore link, although “Extinction” is a Thrash Metal song at its base. The vocals fit very well in, so does the lead guitar solo. Due to the similarities to classical Thrash Metal, “Extinction” has its moments and is another highlight of the album. One feature of the album is that there are a few songs such as “Decadent Demise” or “Apathetic Entity”, which have an extended instrumental part at the beginning, typically at slow tempo with heavy and dark guitar riffing, and then transition into a high-speed track. The track is driven by the simple, but effective guitar riffing and the screaming vocals, which follow the riffing. Highlight of “Apathetic Entity” is the lead guitar solo.

After the below par “Zealot” (with the exception of the lead guitar solo) and the instrumental interlude “Sea”, the album closes with the nine minutes long title song. After another extended slow instrumental opening, it transitions into an aggressive Thrash Metal mid-tempo part. The song structure of the title track is more complex with a lot of tempo breaks and twists in sound. The instrumental part midway through the song picks up on the intro theme followed by atmospheric guitar parts combined with the screams of Matt McGee. The rhythm changes keep going and the song eventually concludes with a cool lead guitar solo. The spoken words at the beginning of the track were provided by drummer Ben Moen.

The Tragedy In Understanding Nothing” has its moments. The strength of the album is the diversity in sound, the guitar riffing, and the lead guitars. The mixture of different styles keeps the album fresh and maintains a certain dynamic. I also liked the diversity of the vocals, however, they did not always fit to the songs in particular to the Thrash Metal oriented tracks. It sometimes worked, but sometimes it did not. The songwriting is promising but leaves room for improvement. The album is well produced. AGONY REIGNS leave a first mark with their debut album. Thrash Metal and also Metalcore fans will surely dig the album and looking forward to future releases of a young up-and-coming band.

Songwriting:  8
Musicianship:  8
Memorability:  7
Production:  8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. I
2. Necrosis
3. Ruination
4. Beyond Death
5. Decadent Demise
6. Extinction
7. Apathetic Entity
8. Zealot
9. Sea
10. The Tragedy In Understanding Nothing
Lineup:
Matt McGee – Vocals, Bass
Jake Schultz – Guitars, Vocals
Micah Adams ­ Guitars, Vocals
Ben Moen – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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