The Agonist – “Five” (Napalm Records)
Almost written off following the departure of famed founder vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, this Canadian band return with their second album featuring new singer Vicky Psarakis! Also employing a dual soul meets screamo style, it perfectly suits the strong melodic death element the band employ alongside a suave modern metal sound. In comparison to White-Gluz, Psarakis seems to be more on the melodic side, and this has allowed The Agonist to show their wider talents on this album. Indeed, there are 14 tracks including a cover of David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth‘ and Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ that all vary and go beyond the staple previously offered. In fact, it’s this new material that impresses most – just check out ‘The Trial’ penned by Psarakis herself who employs a very slick, almost cabaret vocal contrasting the ferocious double bass drumming and chugging, chopping metallic riffs! Switching to a more softer approach, there’s the dark acoustic of ‘The Raven Eyes’ which sorta mixes goth with blues and creates a powerful soul-in-the-wind atmosphere that really goes to the heart. As for her bite, Psarakis clearly performs on ‘The Resurrection‘ which brutally goes right to the band’s bread n butter of soul meeting screamo, demonstrating she can even hit soprano highs on my personal fave ‘The Pursuit of Emptiness‘, complete with its ultra catchy back groove, and some very cool guitar work from Danny Marino. Clearly the composing duo of the newly arrived Psarakis and founder Marino not only works but has allowed the band to branch out further in a respectable and uncontrived way to produce this impressive release – “Five” is aptly named as there are indeed still five band members in The Agonist!