ALBUM REVIEW: The Agonist – Orphans

Release Date: September 20th 2019
Label: Napalm Records


Despite a tumultuous relationship with their original vocalist, Alissa White-Gluz (now of Arch Enemy), The Agonist fought back with fury and survival by recruiting Vicky Psarakis to fill her shoes.

Now, five years down the line, we see if they can maintain their position in the ranks with their sixth album, ‘Orphans’.

Bolting out from the starting blocks, ‘In Vertigo’ launches from distant wails straight into black and thrash metal ferocity, with rifling pedal kicks from Steven McKay who traverses the chaotic song structure with precision and impact. A frenetic and diabolical ball of energy, this is certainly a dramatic and focused beginning where every weapon is utilised.

Turning into hard rock and metalcore territory, ‘The Gift Of Silence’ calms with a more direct approach, yet around every corner the frantic riffs are banging at the door to get out and cast everything asunder. Slowing to allow Psarakis‘ to show her breadth of dexterity with clean vocal sections, it keeps up the intensity while creating a great juxtaposition against the dark confrontational stance of the verses.

Taking an essence of goth rock, ‘Mr. Cold’ begins with macabre organs and tempered riffs from Danny Marino who has a masterful speed, and complex and varied style throughout. It’s a nice break from the rattling snare hits and finger taps.

Combining a nursery tale and horror movie, ‘Orphans’ expands the format into a progressive collective of off-kilter riffs and experimental beats that with the story telling lyrics doesn’t become boring or stale as it retains the intensity of the previous tracks with a few delicate interludes introduced for added drama.

The forays into adjacent genres mean that there’s plenty to chew on, while the core tyrannical essence of The Agonist remains intact, and the little reminders that it’s vying for centre stage give the whole experience an unpredictable feel.