THE AGONIST – DAYS BEFORE THE WORLD WEPT (EP)
Label: Napalm Records
Author: Leanne Evans
01. Remnants In Time
02. Immaculate Deception
04. Feast On The Living
05. Days Before The World Wept
Vicky Psarakis – Vocals/Piano
Danny Marino – Guitar
Pascal Jobin – Guitar
Chris Kells – Bass
Simon McKay – Drums
Canadian extreme melodic death metallers THE AGONIST last graced our ears in 2019 with their critically acclaimed full-length “Orphans”. Fast forward a couple of years and the deadly quintet have unleashed a noticeably bolder and more progressive flair to their latest creation in THE AGONIST’s highly anticipated EP“Days Before The World Wept”. Inspired by real-life experiences, THE AGONIST dig deep into their souls, grappling with the darker, undesirable aspects of humanity, pouring over a grim, conceptual tale of greed, gluttony, confusion and pain, all swathed in redemption and hope. Authentic transparency in the band’s newest release makes for five tracks of powerful intensity, a new level of crisp precision and technical virtuosity and an altogether ferocious experience straight from the belly of the beast.
Integrating symphonic elements that complement dramatic choral arrangements, THE AGONIST commence with “Remnants In Time”. Haunting piano lines tinker to unlock a brooding and minacious piece, with the track then simply searing and igniting into full pelt ferocity. The metaphorical contrast of light and dark within the track are executed with detailed finesse in Vicky’s powerfully enchanting vocal projection, with the mesmerising distinction of demon-possessed growls, magically merged with cherubic chords of clean and polished honeyed tones. “Remnants In Time” retains plenty of melodic moments whilst simultaneously bludgeoning, its output providing a haunting minor soundscape filled with deft drum work, searing leads and biting guitar solos, creating an ominously pleasurable audial melting pot, providing the perfect opener for a captivating collection of cuts.
With THE AGONIST creating such a dramatically titled EP, “Days Before The World Wept” was always going to be a composition of substance and was bound to be delivered with grandiosity and bombast. “Immaculate Conception” encompasses each of those elements, from the sultry spoken narrative intro, through to the overt passages of dissonant intensity, the pulverising blastbeats, everything about this track is showstopping brilliance. Vicky’s perfectly executed vocals are a sound of wonder, with her ability to project the insidious and deliver as a work of beauty being effortless. Her switching and flitting from clean, syrupy singing through to bestial growls, that spew from the pits of the stomach and suckerpunch you are astounding, and the all-round discombobulating output of a pure vocal attack is unsettlingly fulfilling and hooks its razor-sharp claws into you like no other. Truly, the strength of THE AGONIST’s latest release is limitless and there is a clear maturity in the band’s sound that intoxicates with its melodically mephitic vapours.
Delving deeper into the EP, “Resurrection” bridges the five-track collection perfectly with pummelling drums to kick off, tempo of gusto, burning melody and that superb vocal contrast of the sweet and clean, to the sinful sonics of infernal gutturals. This sinister slab offers perfectly timed, intermittent moments of double kick drums and the vocally apoplectic onslaught eviscerates, with only brief moments to recompose in temporal shake-ups with syncopated rhythm. The bass line is perfectly shrouded with synergistic guitars and energetic, vociferous lyrics, with the continuation of passional energy merging seamlessly into “Feast On The Living”, an aggressive cut with a voracious appetite for souls. Choral sounding backing vocals are reintroduced with dual guitar harmonies of perfection, every piece of wrath asphyxiating like a noose.
The atmospheric allure THE AGONIST create is, sincerely, to die for ; the band’s ability to master the dramatic, poetic and theatrical in their works is incredible. Take the mercurial monster, title-track “Days Before The World Wept”, a pure sonic attack of gargantuan measure that commences with an hypnotic, sombre acoustic intro to set the tone. Every aspect of the track is a sublime way to bookend the EP, from the emotional purging of the blastbeats, the monotone output of the rhythm section, merged with forceful growls to summon the female subject the track places focus on, collectively creates despair and hopelessness. Shrouded by the vulnerability of the softer, sweeter vocals that conflict, and melodious riffs that offer an audial comfort blanket, this cut masterfully portrays the dualities of light and dark once more and offers a stark and sincere finale.
Augmented by the band’s ingenious blend of symphonic melody and bludgeoning brutality, THE AGONIST create a stylistic that is simply irresistible and one that buries deep in the skin for all the right reasons. Vicky gives heart and soul, guts and glory and every sweet chord and tantalising tone from her exceptional range, firmly ensconcing herself as the pre-eminent leading lady. “Days Before The World Wept” is mellifluously bewitching and brutally haunting in equal measure, with every facet of the EP being a masterstroke of perfection.