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The Agonist - Eye of Providence

The Agonist – CD Review
Eye of Providence

The Agonist



CD Info
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal
13 Tracks
English Lyrics

EPILOGUE: What this all comes down to is that Vicky Psarakis doesn’t have to take a back seat to any metal vocalist, and for me the new album by The Agonist is their most enjoyable yet.

PROLOGUE: In my opinion, Angela Gossow set the bar for dark female vocals, also known as metal growling. She and Arch Enemy became a melodic death metal institution. Then Angela retired from singing in 2014, moved over to management for Arch Enemy, and the band needed a new vocalist.

Their choice was Alissa White-Gluz. She and The Agonist had also become an institution in melodic death. Unlike Angela, Alissa sang clean as well as dark vocals for The Agonist. Her debut album with Arch Enemy, War Eternal, was enormously impressive, more than enough to knock my socks off. All of Alissa’s vocals on that album are dark.

By all accounts, Alissa’s move to Arch Enemy was extremely harmonious, an arrangement fully and mutually agreed by both bands. It did however leave The Agonist with a gaping space in their line-up. For strategic and artistic reasons they decided they needed another female vocalist to replace Alissa.

They found Vicky Psarakis on YouTube. She had posted studio-quality videos of herself covering metal songs of many genres. The Agonist invited her to audition. She stepped in as if she always should have been there and performed as if she had always belonged with the band. The rest, as they say, will be history.


Vicky and the four guys must surely be full of confidence as the release date for Eye of Providence approaches. I would be. If I was one of them, I’d know I had a superb album ready to ship. Some reviewers are going to say it’s lighter than the first three full-length albums. Others, like the one typing this, will say it’s different in a way that is likely to please followers of Sonic Cathedral. This website doesn’t often delve into the darkest and most brutal realms of metal, focusing instead on the more lyrical female-fronted metal and rock. The huge majority of SC followers will find Eye of Providence is the closest thing The Agonist have done to symphonic death metal.

Vicky arrived with several advantages. First of all, those four guys – founding members Danny Marino (guitar) and Chris Kells (bass), along with Simon McKay (drums) and Pascal Jobin (guitar) – those four already liked what they’d seen and heard from Vicky. Second, she was able to take the microphone in front of four of the most accomplished and creative musicians in metal, a team that’s mostly been together for years. Third, and maybe most importantly, Vicky’s inclusion in the band is not just additive, it’s a multiplier.

What I mean by that is that Vicky comes in as a composer and writer as well as vocalist. For Eye of Providence she scored with Danny Marino. I just had to say that… she teamed up with Danny to do the scores, the musical composition and notation. To show that she’s even more of a talent multiplier, she shared the lyrics writing with Danny and Simon McKay.

A wonder girl? Hell, yes, because she’s so good when she gets down her primary designated role. Her clean vocals soar and her dark vocals engulf you in tingling abrasion. Like Alissa before her, Vicky can switch instantly and effortlessly between the mellifluous and growling vocal styles.

Originality and variety have been hallmarks of The Agonist’s music and track sequences. This is as true as ever on Eye of Providence. It was an eminently wise decision by the band – a stroke of genius, actually – to maximize the Vicky effect by reaching into new musical territory. That is why this album is going to appeal to hardened head-bangers and melodic/symphonic metal fans alike.

The album is rooted deeply in the known and greatly popular Agonist approach to melodic death. It doesn’t take much listening to hear how much of the power and strength of their previous album, Prisoners, continues to flow through their music. (By the way, if you don’t have Prisoners or the earlier albums in the discography, get them; another hallmark of The Agonist is consistently excellent quality from one album to the next.)

The band hasn’t veered off at right-angles to the direction they’ve been following. They’ve broadened their musical scope. The result is a fuller, richer and more eclectic Agonist.

The new album certainly kicks off in the best death style. Vicky announces her presence at the start of the first track, “Gates of Horn and Ivory”, with a guttural “Yeah!” The first part of the first song is nice ’n’ growly. Vicky soon switches to clean vocals, though, and you get the first taste of her versatility.

Some of the tracks are wrapped around the ’70s and ’80s thrash rhythm and blast beats from which death metal grew. The melodic aspect stems considerably from the interplay between the two guitars as well as Vicky’s softer vocals. But overall, the album reflects exactly what Danny Marino has said in advance of the release: “I feel like we have come into our own sound.”

The band has released three videos from the new album already – “Gates of Horn and Ivory”, “My Witness, Your Victim” and “A Gentle Disease”. They’re all very much worth watching; you can find them on YouTube. Of those three, the one that most effectively shows off Vicky’s remarkable skill with clean vocals is “A Gentle Disease”. It could be a female interpretation of an Opeth prog death ballad. It’s going to be a strong contender for my song of the year.

The next track I want The Agonist to put on video is “The Perfect Embodiment”. This song is as much of surprise, pleasure and revelation as “Revenge of the Dadaist” on Prisoners. If the Agonist intended to show us how superbly they can do bluesy prog metal, this number hits the exact centre of the bull’s-eye. The title is most appropriate since the song embodies the expanded approach of The Agonist The more I play this album, the more I want to play it again. On my scale, where “Achy Breaky Heart” is a 1/10 and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is better than God, I rank Eye of Providence as heavenly.

Rating: 9/10.

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