When bands that you once spent plenty of time listening to as a teenager break up, the songs that they released definitely begin to feel nostalgic at a certain point. Back in 2004/2005, me and my friends spent a whole lot of time blasting two albums from The Agony Scene which were titled ‘The Agony Scene’ and ‘The Darkest Red,’ two albums which at that time were game changers for my specific circle of friends. The riffs and breakdowns discovered on those albums not only inspired the music that me and my friends were writing at the time, but they had a sound unique to them in the world of metalcore. The band wrote songs that had a large impact on kids into hardcore and metal at the time and eventually that is all we would have left of the band for some years to come. In 2008, The Agony Scene officially broke up after releasing their third full length album ‘Get Damned’ just a year prior.
Fast forward ten years later and here we are with a brand new release from the band titled ‘Tormentor’ and a fresh signing to Outerloop Records. Seeing the first bit of advertising for their new signing and new album certainly rekindled an old flame and it left me very curious. Having been away from music for an entire ten years, the sound that they once championed had transformed and the sound of modern metal music as a whole has changed drastically (same with the industry going almost entirely digital). This left me asking two questions, what will their music sound like? And what will be their place in the current scene of competitive youngsters? Although I think it’s a bit early to answer the second question, I am proud to say that the answer to the first question is an easy one: they sound fucking excellent. With ‘Tormenter,’ The Agony Scene abandoned most of their metalcore roots and put an entire new spin on their sound, infusing elements of blackened death metal, darker melodies, and a whole new level of aggression for this band.
I say abandoned most of their metalcore roots, because their core sound is still present, but not in the exact way it was when they began. They still have very heavy parts in their songs and employ their signature riffs that caught the fans attention in the first place. What you are going to notice listening to the first track “Hand of the Divine,” is that The Agony Scene have sped things up greatly. They open the track up with a very thrashy double bass section that isn’t a far cry from the bands sound, but the blast beat and speed picking that follows is a relatively new direction for the band. Certainly not the first time we are hearing them utilize this sort of speed, but it is something that you will hear more of on this record than any other release of theirs.
As the opening track (outside of fifty five second intro “Awakening”) for their first album in ten years, this song maintains a high level of energy and showcases their more extreme sound nicely. Track three “Like the Weeds in the Field” presents itself with vehemence, initiating with melodic speed riffing and a fierce blast.Familiar territory comes shortly after in the transition with guitar feedback ringing out over a classic Agony Scene style riff. Longtime fans of the band will notice this balance between their new found darkened ferocity and their inherent heavy metal roots. This balance can be heard throughout the entire album, but largely on tracks like “The Apostate,” “The Submissive,” and “Tormentor.” Three standout tracks incorporating clean black metal riffing, bits of melodic death metal, precise percussion, and very heavy grooves.
Separating the three tracks is a personal favorite called “Mouthpiece,” a song that has a very droney chorus played with a tenebrous melody. It is repeated quite a bit throughout the track and has proved itself to be extremely catchy. One thing about the bands sound that has remained 100% consistent over the course of the bands existence, is the unmistakable vocals provided by Mike Williams. His high pitched, screeching scream has graced every studio album with the same tone and energy. An impressive energy and consistency that fits within whatever sound the band is aiming to deliver, whether it be metalcore, punk, or black metal. Something he’s undoubtedly practiced and mastered over the years.
There is without a doubt a huge extreme metal influence on this record and quite the shift from their previous punk inspired release “Get Damned.” This is a shift that will work in favor of the fans that are into more death metal and black metal. I can see how this could be a turn off for some of their fans who latched on to the bands more breakdown heavy songs, but as I mentioned earlier there is something for all of The Agony Scene fans on this record. They definitely wrote a very high energy, fast paced, and enjoyable record with ‘Tormentor.’
Pick-up your copy of Tormentor, out now via Outerloop Records, HERE!