The Agonist – Orphans (2019)

The death metal quintet has opened yet another portal to the hereafter with their sixth studio album—Orphans. To be released under Rodeostar Records this September 20th, the masterpiece resurrects undead emotions through both eerie and corrosive sounds.

The first step into this hellhole is In Vertigo. It all began with the melodic crooning of a lady. Like any horror movie intro, it summoned disquiet merely by sequences of falsettos. Then as if this foreshadowed something less pleasant, the growls appeared from nowhere. It was a sudden transition from a voice so feminine to some kind of diseased monstrosity. The guitars have slain it with arpeggios nonstop. I must notice the range of the vocals which were executed in a unrecognisable fashion. There was a pause for a little of bass.

Torn open by these killer-epic finger scales was As One We Survive. The choir was a permanent noise in the background. The breathless stringwork of guitars was painfully explicit. This time, the vocals contained a clear, deep tone. The Gift Of Silence came as third. By a short notice, the guitars simply brought spirals and shreds of itself on the table. It was excellent. This went smoother on the vocal chords for most parts and instruments took care in observing their turns to divide the song.

Blood As My Guide spawned these abrasive hostile-tempered lyrics. The choir was there again, being unsympathetic as it were. The fact that the vocalist maintained high notes and exhibited melismas raised the class of the music. It echoed like incantations out of a spell book with a careless play of guitars, never once nearing a flaw.

Orchestral strings were dethroned by bends and pinches of guitar techniques in Mr. Cold. Again, the sickening growl told a story in such a grim tone. The song was funereal. How the vocalist performed this shifting of voice types was to be praised. Dust To Dust was ripped open by a lacerating scream. An illusion of brutal imagery was brought to life by the lyricwork. It was nigh difficult to keep up with this sort of death. All the glissandos and sustains were on point.

A Devil Made Me Do It began straightaway from the guitargods. Leaving no space unoccupied. No moment of quiet. No life. It was clear how the virtuosity shaped most of the music. Each fall of the fingertips on the fretboard—each consistent note became so persuasive into making us commit acts of hell.

Another persistent guitarring was in The Killing I. The back vocals can be heard occasionally. The drums were frighteningly about to threaten a cardiac arrest. The duo of guitars were gruesome in its particular solo, so repetitive of melodic scales. Orphans, the same title as the whole album, started with soft syllables until it evolved into this masculine-like timbre. With vibrato so pronounced, so solid in execution. The track allowed some refrains to the bass. And had a tragic storyline. One told in an orphanage setting. Throughout this gothic horror, the agony resurfaces with each press of the grave piano keys.

The last chance into this nonliving realm was Burn It All Down. Again came the immediate scream, as if bringing the title into the senses. The guitar here was simple— it was an act of murder. It was this inescapable expiration of us. Across the fingerboard, it entwined itself with the multi-personality of the vocals. Leaving a last solo and a grim bass it went. This song had a life and death on its own.

Orphans was a showcase of death metal versatility. All these shifts and scales. Both careful and careless instrumentation. And the vivid concept. It was metal music with class. A paradox of things both monstrous and beautiful.


Review by Estefan Malgret.

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