Combining extreme metal elements with great melodies and interesting rhythms is not an easy feat, you either go too heavy or too melodic. Yet somehow Canadian metal band THE AGONIST have managed to create songs that have a neat balance between heaviness and melodious. This is even more impressive as they incorporate metalcore, progressive metal, and technical aspects in their music. They have more than proven their craft and musicianship with their sixth full-length outing, “Orphans” (2019), but also with the wonderful follow-up, “Days Before the World Wept.” The EP was released on October 15th, 2021, via powerhouse label Napalm Records.
Just like “Orphans,” the new EP is multifaceted and diverse, as the five tracks present different takes on melodic death metal by mixing together grim moods and atmospheres with blistering guitars from duo Danny Marino and Pascal Jobin, pummeling drums from Simon McKay, groovy bass lines from Chris Kells, and Vicky Psarakis’ impressive vocals. Lead single and death metal burner, “Remnants in Time,” gets things going with a haunting piano melody before the guitars, drums, and vocals take over and twist it into a full-blown technical delight. The choral-like vocalizations soften the frenetic guitar attack while also giving everything an eerie vibe. It is, however, the low gutturals in the chorus that give weight to the song and make it feel more robust and hefty. Up next, “Immaculate Deception” is a more rhythmic and less chaotic piece than “Remnants in Time,” as it hinges on clean vocals and mechanical double-bass drum beats. Seriously, the drum work in this track is insane, whereas the guitars rumble steadily in the background and the vocals take control of the direction of the music.
The punchy reworked version of “Resurrection” (originally from “Five”) features some gritty clean vocals from Vicky Psarakis and intense drumming from Simon McKay. The guitar riffs inject the song with some interesting harmonies, veering it into blackened death metal territory. Second single “Feast on the Living” pummels forward with furious drums, fierce vocals, and razor-sharp guitars that just won’t let up. The title track, “Days Before the World Wept,” leans a bit more into progressive metal, as blast-beats and double-bass drumming kick everything into gear while the chugging guitars tie everything together nicely. The emotional vocals add a new dimension of warmth, not just to this track, but to the whole EP, bringing this tale of greed, pain, and redemption to life and pinpointing Vicky Psarakis as one of (if not) the best vocalists in the extreme metal scene.
All-in-all, this EP really showcases that THE AGONIST are not just in top form, but establishes them as one of the most technically proficient bands out there. “Days Before the World Wept’ is a well-crafted and put-together EP that is wonderfully cohesive in terms of how the instrumental side supports the lyrics and how the vocals weave themselves into this tapestry of sounds and connect everything. In between “Orphans” and this EP, THE AGONIST have really cemented their status as a creative force on the metal scene and I am sure we will get more impressive albums from them going forward.
Written by Andrea Crow
1. Remnants in Time
2. Immaculate Deception
4. Feast on the Living
5. Days Before the World Wept
Vicky Psarakis – Vocals / Piano
Danny Marino – Guitar
Pascal Jobin – Guitar
Chris Kells – Bass
Simon McKay – Drums