Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Agonist - Lullabies for the Dormant Mind


Let’s be honest with each other, for at least 80% of us, the thing about The Agonist that initially caught our eye was the vocalist. I mean seriously, it’s kind of hard to pass by an EXTREMELY attractive female human being with luscious bright blue hair. This is something that a lot of people (especially reviewers) try not to spend time talking about because it’s not the band’s image that matters, it’s their music. But there’s no denying the fact that Alyssa is one hell of a woman! But because this is a music review and not a fashion critique, I decided to only spend a couple of sentences on Alyssa’s looks before the review so that I don’t end up going on and on about her. The Canadian melodic death band has achieved a reasonable amount of success with the three albums that they’ve released and a considerably rigorous touring schedule. Due to a seemingly constant loss of words whenever trying to review this album, I haven’t been able to write one until now.

The part where I get stuck most often on reviews of albums THIS good is where to fucking start! Although I will at least attempt to cover every aspect of this album, I won’t be able to. And on another note, I will not be organizing everything I say in order of how important I think they are. Because although the amount of technicality these guys have in their music is huge and certainly important, it’s not the biggest reason why I love them.

It’s not very often that you hear a melodic death band that has THIS much technicality in their music. Although there are definitely plenty of other bands that are this technical, the only other melodic death band that I’M aware of are Wintersun, Children of Bodom, and Imperanon (I just noticed that all three of those are Finnish). So for those of you that are HUGE fans of melodic music and want something with a much more technical and complex song structure, I would highly recommend this album. Every musician in this band is playing with an extreme amount of complexity; and although that may be, none of them are at the same level as the drummer. Although you can clearly hear his complex drumming style, I think that it’s heard easiest in my favorite song off the album, The Tempest [The Siren’s Song; the Banshees Cry], although I just call it The Tempest for obvious reasons.

Whenever I’m telling people about REALLY good bassists in the metal genre, the bassist from The Agonist is one that I always make it a point to mention. If you’ve decided to go out and listen to The Tempest while reading the rest of this review, you’ve already noticed that the bassist is a prominent instrument on this album. If you haven’t chosen to do so, you’ll get your first whiff of his colorful style in the intro of the damn song. Since there’s only one guitarist, the bassist takes on the extra task of playing complex harmonizations with the guitarist as well as providing the lower end (as if the drummer doesn’t do enough of that!). Another thing that this band does better than most melodic death bands is transitioning smoothly between really heavy and really melodic parts. Once again, this can also be heard easily in The Tempest. Most melodic death bands tend to stay melodic, and if they make any mood transitions, they’re either slight (some more than others) or gradual. There are some bands that decide to take on the challenge and play two extremes of the same sound and putting them together in the same song. Another band that does this VERY well is Scar Symmetry with their absolutely crushing verse sections that transition PERFECTLY into the extremely epic and melodic choruses.

The vocals are another thing that helps make the transition not only smoother, but also more extreme. Her growls and screams are obviously what make the heavy parts HEAVY (especially the breakdowns), and her singing does none other than enhance the beauty of the flawless melodic elements. Also, her vocals cover an unusually wide range of pitches and styles throughout the entire record; from deepish growls to really nasty and gritty yells to mid-ranged screams to screams as high as a canary. For me, nothing else needs to be said about this album (although there are plenty of topics that I haven’t covered). Anyone that is a fan of melodic metal and extreme metal in general would thoroughly enjoy this melodic death masterpiece. I would rate this album 19/20.