October 11, 2021 The Agonist – Days Before the World Wept (EP Review)
It’s no easy feat to craft a unique sound that travels the entire heavy spectrum. Similarly, it’s nearly impossible to offer your listeners the voices of a Satanic imp and a sweet cherub all in one body. But Canada’s The Agonist has already perfected their ability to siphon inspiration from eclectic sources, then deliver it in the form of a cinematic journey that would make Mary Shelley proud. So the world is in for a treat when they issue the Days Before the World Wept EP on Friday, October 15, 2021 via Napalm Records.
For many, it was the Extreme Melodic Death Metal outfit’s sixth release, 2019’s Juno Awards nominated Orphans, that forced their ears to finally take notice. Of course, die-hards know that this was no ‘overnight success’ and the group started their career in 2006, releasing three full-lengths with the exceptional Alissa White-Gluz out front. However, The Agonist that we know now took shape in 2014 with the arrival of talented Frontwoman Vicky Psarakis. Together the quintet began to rewrite their story, crafting 2015’s Eyes of Providence, 2016’s Five, and the aforementioned Orphans.
So what is next for The Agonist—Vocalist/Pianist Psarakis, Guitarists Danny Marino and Pascal Jobin, Bassist Chris Kells, and Drummer Simon McKay? As preparations begin for their seventh full-length studio offering, they whet our appetites with the 5-song Days Before the World Wept. Produced by Christian Donaldson (Cryptopsy, Despised Icon), the EP, inspired by real life experiences, embraces a “conceptual tale of greed, gluttony, confusion, pain, redemption and hope” with a recurring theme of time. Like a macabre fairytale, it spins webs of haunting prose bathed in moments of golden hope and unbridled technical prowess.
Gossamer notes set the narrative in motion thanks to Psarakis’ gorgeously melancholic piano work on “Remnants In Time.” Though once her bandmates step in, the spotlight shifts to Marino and Jobin as the duo race wildly through technical loops that are apt to delight Prog Metal fans. With killer rhythms from Kells and McKay, an exceptional foundation is laid for Psarakis’ vocal theatrics, which take her from fiendishness to the lofty heavens, juxtaposing the two for a vicious impact.
This is really no different on any of the selections that make up Days Before the World Wept, though each is very much its own entity. “Immaculate Deception,” for example, injects Symphonic Metal sensibilities into its profile as the quintet explores a sinister artfulness that is very much inspired by the macabre. Here, the guitars unleash hell, lamenting the fact that “time is unforgiving to those who try to run.” It, like much of the EP, has a kind of quasi-Avenged Sevenfold feel; like the SoCal band’s talents have been blackened and gnarled into something with further dramatic effect.
Not the case, however, for “Resurrection” whose blast beats anchor soaring melodies. Meanwhile, Marino and Jobin’s double-headed attack returns to lead the charge into “Feast on the Living” before the EP reaches its powerful conclusion with the titular “Days Before the World Wept.” Here, they toy with their listeners, starting off with a baptism of sunshine before slithering back into the Stygian depths. In this, they end as they began: swimming through the primordial prose of the most extreme of Metal.
But to pigeonhole the band, as well as the EP, would be a severe disservice. The funereal fantasy is full of show-stopping melodic moments, thanks to a bevy of eclectic influences melded fluidly, and capped off with thoughtful poetry. At the heart of it all lies a promise that each of us is a book who “still has pages unwritten,” an astoundingly simple insight delivered in the most extreme format. For all of the above, Cryptic Rock gives Days Before the World Wept 4.5 of 5 stars.