REVIEW: The Agonist - Eye Of Providence

Century Media Records

The first show I'd ever seen live, when it comes to metal, was headlined by The Agonist. Though it was a cold hellish night and I'd had to walk several miles to get to the venue, a small bar called The Red Dog - that night cemented my love for small venues, live music and the genre as a whole. Before that, I'd been infatuated with this Canadian Metalcore act, the concept of a woman singing any amount of harsh vocals was completely new to me - especially when the domineering 'female-fronted' acts at the time were Evanescence and Nightwish. Of course, after attending the show I began to pick up their albums one by one until 2012's 'Prisoners' but at that point, I didn't quite feel the same creativity of drive from the band - especially compared to the excellence of their second album 'Lullabies For The Dormant Mind'. Of course, the story goes that Alissa White-Gluz parted ways with The Agonist, I'm sure there are many fan theories present as to why (sorry, this article won't be getting into that mess), but eventually the band picked up Vicky Psarakis - who'd been making vocal covers on Youtube up to that point. My thoughts on Vicky Psarakis are as follows: she is a superior replacement. This thought is only further reinforced as I experience 'Eye Of Providence.'

Of course I'm going to talk about the vocals first, its the main burning question on every fans mind. Well, no need to worry, Vicky Psarakis does hold up rather well. Actually, it almost feels as though she completely enjoys what shes doing and has some serious passion for it. She does try to keep everything within the typical The Agonist style of layered vocal soundscapes, soft feminine vocals paired with extreme, and the occasional chorus effect comprised of the singers own voice rather then a hiring group of people or something. Its all very true to The Agonist and, rather then being a follow-up to 'Prisoners', this album actually feels more in-tune to the far more superior 'Lullabies For The Dormant Mind.' So, if you are a fan of the vocal experimentation present on that album, you'll fear very much at home with 'Eye Of Providence.'

Vocals aren't the whole band and I feel that the rest of The Agonist really doesn't get enough attention. When I'd saw them live, the entire band nailed every track they'd played, their playing was always clean and I swear to god there wasn't any mistakes present the entire night. 'Eye Of Providence' really ups the quality of song-writing of previous albums - some familiarity does exist, because I doubt The Agonist is about to infuse Black Metal into their sound anytime soon, but its only at intervals which the band allows Miss Psarakis to shine vocally. Outside of this, there are countless fantastic moments where the playing shines - sometimes even more then the vocals - and sometimes things get extremely technical. No doubt, this isn't one of today's Djent inspired Metalcore acts.

I can't give enough praise to 'Eye Of Providence', after listening to it several times I'm still not tired of it. The spirit of 'Lullabies For The Dormant Mind' is here, rather then the questionable 'Prisoners'. The new singer is extremely enjoyable, plus the band shows how they can keep evolving musically - even after all this time. If this album is a show for The Agonist's future, I'm on board.