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The Agonist - Orphans Award winner

The Agonist
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 September 2019, 5:13 AM

THE AGONIST is a very well-known Melodic Death/Metalcore band based out of Montreal, Canada. I daresay their earlier years were marked by popularity due to the beauty of their original singer, Alyssa White-Gluz, who exited the band in 2014 to join the ranks of ARCH ENEMY, one of the original Melodic Death Metal bands from Sweden that this reviewer was never really a fan of. Enter crooner Vicky Psarakis, and they are now releasing their third album with her titled “Orphans.” I’ve read some words exchanged between her and Alyssa about the band, but I am not here to judge comments, just the album. So, let’s get to it.

“In Vertigo” leads us off. Haunting and hushed vocal notes lead us off, like a children’s fairy tale that ends in blood. The main riff is chunky and powerful and Vicky has the pipes no doubt. Her harsh vocals are guttural and her cleans are beautiful. The alternating passages of violence and subdued beauty are well done. “As one we Survive” opens with a flurry of guitar work and some technical wizardry. The chorus is done with clean vocals, but the band seems to be at their best when the harsh elements are on full display. “The Gift of Silence” bubbles with energy from that opening scream. The technical work here is actually quite good. This is what separates them from their peers in the genre. It’s a lot more exciting then ARCH ENEMY, I will tell you that.

“Blood as my Guide” opens with some light symphonic elements and the clean vocal prowess of Vicky Psarakis. The harsh vocals in the chorus are supported by a background cast of rich elements which keeps the sound thick and full, another thing often missing in the genre. “Mr. Cold” opens with a dark and mysterious sound, leading to the first mid-tempo track on the album. Some of the more ambient passages here really help to temper the aggressive ones. This is what is best about the genre, and they do it well. “A Devil Made me do it” is another super-fast and technical number, where the bass, drums and guitars work in a nice union, while the vocals shriek over the top. Vicky really wails at one point, and it’s clear the band has put their all into the album. “The Killing I” opens with some more technical wizardry and a combination of harsh and clean vocals in the verses. The guitar solo is done very well here, following the melody line perfectly.

“Orphans” seems to be the pinnacle song on the album, with a heavy, swinging cadence, and varied vocals throughout. The ambient passages are nice, and if this is Vicky’s voice on the ultra-low gutturals, she has more versatility than I previously thought. They let some melody into the fold here as well, but it’s dark. “Burn it all down” closes the album. It’s a shorter, more intense song out of the gate. It’s a whirlwind of power and might from start to finish, with a nice, full chorus.

Admittedly, I have never really listened to THE AGONIST prior to hearing this record, but a fan they have made of me for sure. There is an over-saturated market of Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore bands out there, but THE AGONIST have set themselves apart with smart, calculated songwriting where they pay closer attention to the structures of the songs, and their level of musicianship is unmatched. They play in impossibly tight spaces and come out the other side with a wall of melody that washes over you, and Vicky is one of the best and most versatile singers out there right now. It’s more than past time to put the ghost of Alyssa White-Gluz behind them, and I'm sure they have a while ago.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. In Vertigo
2. As one we Survive
3. The Gift of Silence
4. Blood as my Guide
5. Mr. Cold
6. Dust to Dust
7. A Devil made me do it
8. The Killing I
9. Orphans
10. Burn it all Down
Vicky Psarakis – Vocals
Danny Marino – Guitar
Chris Kells – Bass
Simon McKay – Drums
Pascal "Paco" Jobin – Guitar
Record Label: Rodeostar Records


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Edited 26 September 2022

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