I've been eagerly waiting for the new The Agonist album ever since the band officially announced to have parted ways with band co-founder and vocalist Alissa White-Gluz who had joined melodic death metal giants Arch Enemy. When the Canadian band introduced their new, mostly unknown vocalist Vicky Psarakis to the fans, I reacted like most people reacted to Alissa White-Gluz replacing Angela Gossow in Arch Enemy: Does she have the ability to keep up the high standards her predecessor had set over the years - without copying her?
Something else I've been noticing while listening to The Agonist's other records is the lack of tension throughout one whole record. Being bothered about exactly this phenomenon, I've never been able to completely like their music. Well, until now.
The Canadian band's forth full-length record called "Eye of Providence" is set to be released on 23 February and it's an album I've been positively surprised by, not only because of Psarakis' striking vocals. The band worked exceptionally well regarding arrangements and you can literally hear the effort the members, literally all members, put into this album. En bloc, "Eye Of Providence" is a strong record because of its fresh sounding compositions. The Agonist kept up their well-known style but did little changes here and there.
The vocals have always been a big part of The Agonist's music and the most notable change in the band's current sound. Considering Vicky Psarakis has only been screaming for one year and a half, she's sounding really well and she managed to achieve a decent death metal sound, at least on tape. Her principal forte is her unique clean voice and the way she blends different influences into her singing. The main difference between her and White-Gluz is pretty obvious and also the reason the two vocalists can't be compared to each other: Psarakis is highly talented, but White-Gluz is the experienced and skilled vocalist. I decided to leave it at that because stating that Alissa White-Gluz is the better vocalist would be unfair on Vicky, as she still needs to grow vocally - and she has the best basis to become a killer vocalist and front woman at some point in her career.
Something The Agonist noticeably tried to achieve since their second full-length "Lullabies For The Dormant Mind" is mixing different influences into their melodic death metal/metalcore style. With "Eye Of Providence" I feel they managed to capture a wide range of several music styles throughout the whole record for the first time ever - from variations of melodic death metal and metalcore to jazz, prog or heavy rock. Songs like "A Gentle Disease", "As Above So Below" and "Disconnect Me" for example are three very different tracks but still can be identified as characteristic The Agonist songs.
Talking about highlights, it's so hard to choose only a few tracks, but to mention some: "My Witness, Your Victim" is a very strong song thanks to its atmosphere and the killer riffing, as well as the vocal lines of "Danse Macabre" and "Perpetual Notion" are beyond awesome.
In a nutshell, "Eye of Providence" offers enough variety so that every listener (by that, I literally mean everyone) will be able to find at least one personal highlight, be it the heavier tracks "Gates of Horn and Ivory" or "Disconnect Me" or the inherent and alternative "As Above, So Below".
Relating to the introduction of this review, I can only speak in high terms of The Agonist's new release and new vocalist. "Eye of Providence" is the result of dedication, talent and the members' iron will to reach the people in the entire world with their music.