Canadian act The Agonist probably don’t want the most memorable thing about them being that they are that band whose singer went and joined Arch Enemy. They were quick to come back with new vocalist Vicky Psarakis installed and delivered ‘Eye Of Providence’ just over a year and a half ago and are already back with new album Five their fifth (but you guessed that) having jumped ship from Century Media to Napalm. The versatility of the new singer was highlighted before and straight away on opening number ‘The Moment’ she shows that she can sing in both devilish and angelic form within the first minute of the song. As far as Five is concerned there is plenty of material here and a run time of just shy of the hour. There are some surprises to be found amidst the 13 numbers here too that take this far beyond the mere metalcore style that the band established themselves with. Interestingly until we get to a cover at the end all the track titles begin with the word ‘The’ too; well perhaps it’s not that interesting but it did stick out on first glance.
This one should come with a warning actually, it’s a damn addictive album and some of the songs are so undeniably catchy they are likely to be stuck in your head for days. This borders the realms of aggression and commerciality (for metal standards) perfectly. The poppy chorus and angry growls amidst some choppy technical breakdowns on that opener, being a case in point. It also shows how the band are going to fit in touring with diverse acts such as Arkona, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Epica on tour. There’s neat soloing and beefy backing vocals on pumped up number ‘The Chain’ and the clean harmonies are quite sublime, strangely enough reminding of Queen just a touch. Further on its ‘The Ocean’ that strikes as one of those killer earworms. Some soulful and sassy singing take us in before turbulent drumming rattle us around and things get choppy, then the chorus hits and it’s a case of hanging onto the lifeboat for dear life; add in some spoken and rasped out word parts and this one has it all making for a really killer song. After rocking and rolling us all over the shop a change of pace is taken on ‘The Raven Eyes’. This is a gorgeous late night smoky ballad, the sort of one sung in a moody jazz or lounge club. Full of heart and soul it’s one to deliciously linger on long after it fades out. Following it with a gentle piano sonata ‘The Wake’ makes things take up a more funereal direction, it actually sounds like it could be a perfect opener for the band to come on stage to us it progresses and puffs itself up symphonically. Needless to say ‘The Resurrection’ (and yep there does seem to be a narrative theme here) bombs and rattles in taking the aggression levels back up the max. ‘The Villain’ is not just dastardly but vitriolic and rousing, a great one for the bangers out there and likely to be a highlight live.
Towards the end ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ is a lush and passionately sung number; whether it is done as any sort of tribute to the late great David Bowie is uncertain but I wouldn’t be surprised. I do have a cover at the end of my download (there’s also an acoustic Raven Eyes on some editions) and it really stuck out as not being an original song. Apparently the original artist of ‘Take Me To Church’ is Hozier and in The Agonist’s hands it’s so full of hooks and snares you’ll be singing it in your head for a week once heard!
All in all a very solid album with some killer songs; what more do you need?
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)