The Agony Scene – The Agony Scene
Release Date: June 10, 2003
Record Label: Solid State Records
Yet another hardcore child of Solid State Records, The Agony Scene’s self titled full length is more than a worthy effort. Rapid fire double bass and constant metal riffs make each track fly forward. The album begins with a bang with several breakneck speed metal tracks that don’t hold anything back. Duel guitars continually harmonize riffs in the background while the screeching vocals drive the song forward. The Agony Scene’s vocals are very high-pitched for a hardcore screamer (think Zao, circa Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest) and while they provide the band with a lot of energy, the screams come out restricted and forced sometimes. The beginning of the second track, “Habeas Corpus” is a perfect example of that forced shriek of a scream, but the vocals recover nicely, especially during the many breakdowns of the song.
The metal influences are heard heavily throughout the album, especially in “Judas” and “Eyes Sewn Shut.” These songs provide non-stop rif***e with the bass pedal hitting faster than you can blink. For as awesome as the instrumentation is, all of the band’s songs have a tendency to shift into almost nu-metal type choruses with slowdowns and deeper, dark screams. The song structures are basically unvaried, and while the guitar melodies are obviously different for each song, you can tell when choruses are coming, and you can tell the exact moment when the band is going to slow tempo.
The Agony Scene is certainly not short on talent, as many of the songs contain absolutely brutal hardcore breakdowns that rip straight into metalcore verses. The resulting sound is a nice combination of Zao and Unearth. The main thing lacking here is simply the lack of vocal variation. While the songs provide plenty of interesting riffs and transitions, the vocal tone remains the same throughout each song. Every time the band breaks into a scream, it seems as though the same note is hit with the scream. The one exception of this is their awesome cover of “Paint it Black,” which provides some of the only actual singing on the album. That countered with the pinched, frantic style of screaming creates a nice balance.
Overall, this is an album that I’ve owned for quite some time and it has truly stood the test of time. While there are major flaws to this album, the pure energy of it will make you come back to it time and time again. The instrumentation alone is reason enough to pick up this release, and if you want to hear a more metal sounding Zao, then The Agony Scene is the band for you. With a new album on the way sometime in the next few months, keep your eyes open for another solid release.