Sunday, 22 May 2011

CD Review: Lullabies For The Dormant Mind, by The Agonist (2009)

Montreal's The Agonist boast a unique metal sound combining classical and jazz influences with sporadic but critical melodies, challenging structures, and vocalist Alissa White-Gluz deploying both clean and growl vocals and demonstrating a formidable range in both.

The blast-beat happy drums of Simon McKay are mixed refreshingly to the forefront, and while guitarist Danny Marino shies away from solos, The Agonist members behind Alissa are less about individual showcasing and more about barely-controlled group chaos sometimes dropping into the abyss of massive breakdowns.

The front four tracks on Lullabies For The Dormant Mind, the band's second album, form an unrelenting assault. Opener The Tempest starts with no compromise, just launching into a hyper-frenzied beat that Alissa somehow controls with amazing grace. ...And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep barrels down a back road that has never seen pavement, bouncing off boulders seemingly out of control but with enough brake power to surprisingly make it around the sharpest of corners. Around the two minute mark it just explodes into an unstoppable riff that crashes into the heaviest, deepest, breakdown.

Thank You, Pain, probably the strongest song on the album, benefits from the most sustained melody and soaring Alissa vocals rising above the carnage created by the band. Birds Elope With The Sun is slightly less accessible, eventually unveiling a rich layered structure suitable for a dangerous stroll through a darkened graveyard.

The rest of the album is not as strong, with the band at times losing control of the music with too much melody chopping and too many pace changes, but the material is never less than interesting. Globus Hystericus does indeed succeed in capturing delightful hysteria, the clever vocals again rising above the crunching anarchy. Swan Lake is a stunning a cappella rendition of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet theme, but does not necessarily support repeated listens.

Lullabies For The Dormant Mind is a unique package of modern metal, fierce, challenging and beautifully ultra-heavy.


Alissa White-Gluz - Vocals
Danny Marino - Guitar
Chris Kells - Bass
Simon McKay - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. The Tempest (The Siren's Song; The Banshee's Cry) - 8
2. ...And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep - 10
3. Thank You, Pain - 10
4. Birds Elope With The Sun - 8
5. Waiting Out The Winter - 7
6. Martyr Art - 7
7. Globus Hystericus - 8
8. Swan Lake (a cappella) - 7
9. The Sentient - 7
10. When The Bough Breaks - 7
11. Chlorpromazine - 7

Average: 7.82

Recorded and Produced by Christian Donaldson.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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