Creating a bridge between the past and future, the Dark Pantheons EP from US metallers Agiel is one exciting tempestuous fury drenched in unique invention and rapacious exploration. The release uncages five scintillating onslaughts of brutal death and symphonic black metal with plenty more teasing the appetite, a quintet of songs which suggests that the band’s return is the start of a new exceptional and unique chapter in the history of the Philadelphia hailing four piece
Formed in 1997, Agiel began with a blackened death metal sound as a conveyance for the lyrical and musical expression of occult philosophy and ritual magic. Debut release The Works of War arrived two years later, pushing the band’s already distinctive and different sound into wider attention. In 2002 the band unleashed Dark Pantheons Again Will Reign, a well-received and acclaimed release which revealed more evolution in Agiel’s creativity and sound, symphonic elements courting the established potent technical skill and merciless aggression. From persistently igniting stages and releasing the three tracked Vessatu in 2005, the band decided to rest for a while in 2007. Five years moved by before the world saw Agiel return in the December of 2012 with a new line-up consisting of one of the founding members of the band vocalist/keyboardist James Taylor, guitarist Jesse Carson (Inmania, ex-Warblade), bassist Rich Buzzell (ex-Abdicate), and drummer Kevin Kostyk (Pig Rectum, Seize the Soul). Exploring the seeds planted in earlier releases to new extensive depths and adventures, the quartet have evolved into a proposition of intriguing ingenuity and sonic expression as evidenced upon Dark Pantheons. Almost switching the attack from ravenous death metal with symphonic endeavour to an immersive and consuming tidal symphony of imagination now in equal tandem with the uncompromising intensity the band is renowned for, the EP opens up a new realm and height for Agiel. The Deepsend Records released incitement contains re-workings of songs originally frequenting Dark Pantheons Again Will Reign, re-imagined and inventively twisted into new breath-taking and exhaustive encounters.
The title track explodes in the ears from its first second, crippling rhythms and savage riffs turning on their recipient whilst the keys sculpt a rising climactic atmosphere. The impact and strength of the song from its first moment hits like a tidal wave; one equipped with a predacious hunger within a sonically bred and melodic storm. There is no time to grip any mental safety rail as the track brawls and seduces the senses with a riveting maelstrom of invention and ferocious rabidity, every second featuring a landslide of activity that it borders on being impossible for thoughts and emotions to digest. Spiteful and alluring, barbarous and seductive, the track is an exceptional concussive joy, a chaotic yet precise and voracious provocation.
Deeds Rendered Upon the Flesh soars into view on epic orchestral tones and a rousing imaginative awakening of the air, an opening premise which is soon drenched and smothered by an insatiable attack of rhythms aligned to spiralling and splintering guitar enterprise. It like the first is a delicious chaos of musical skill and unpredictable invention leaving senses dazzled and emotions ignited. For all the anarchy and torrential havoc fuelling the onslaughts, the body and heart of the songs are never lost or disrupted which only accentuates the quality and craft of the tempests.
Both The Awakening and Serpent Masquerade exploit the already induced weakness of body and emotions; each providing irresistible toxicity to embrace and fear. The first of the two is a majestic titan, its muscles tall and threatening over the senses as the guitars and keys stalk with intensive flames of enterprise amidst a now expected rhythmic disorder, whilst its successor avails ears of its own particular scourge of enthralling mayhem and adventurous bloodlust. The clean vocals which parade and entice with anthemic bait in the back shadows of the track are additionally magnetic, an outstanding temper and assistance to the abrasive deep squalls which primarily lead the lyrical ferociousness.
Dark Pantheons is brought to a close by the equally disorientating and sublime Andromeda, a track which scars and tempts with equal strength and imagination as completes the exceptional release. A mention has to be made about the production of the release, the only aspect which disappoints somewhat and does the band no favours. Its presence is like a tsunami washing away and suffocating too much of the individual ingenuity whilst submersing the whole thing in a cloudy brew lacking the clarity to illuminate all that is impressively thriving within the songwriting and music. The fact that the songs persuade so powerfully is a testament to their and the band’s mastery. With additional material set for later this year and a new full length album in production for 2015, Agiel has emerged as a tour-de-force which shows their previous and very satisfying presence as just the warm up act for something very special.
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