Redemptor - Agonia
Technical Atmospheric Death Metal
9 songs ()
Release year: 2021
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Getting to know Polish Redemptor this past week has been a pleasure. For a long time I was looking for a death metal record to impress with heaviness and atmosphere in equal measure and Agonia certainly does that. With the combination of heavy drumming, adept at both speedy bursts and slower agonizing rolls, riffs and chords filled with all sorts of technical diversions and leads, Agonia fills the room not only or always through barbarity, but also via dissonant jangles and profound atmosphere. As long as songs qualify for mood creation along the lines of angst, nervousness, fear and bipolar disorder they are par for the course on Agonia. Add very tastefully placed orchestral arrangements, a sparing use of viola or cello, and the album just oozes that captivating aura which had me glued to its notes for about a week. And before Agonia I haven’t even heard of Redemptor, despite the fact the band has (or at some point counted amongst their ranks) members from other Polish famous acts like Decapitated, Hate and Vader. Agonia has hit a major enjoyment spot, so I will be after its predecessor Arthaneum now.

When I played some of Agonia tracks to my 17yr old son who likes heavy music, we both agreed that Redemptor should not be the first death metal to be played to a novice, it is so complex and non-linear, but also the album will not thrive in the minds of those who appreciate death metal only for brutality and viciousness. Sure there are absolutely heavy and ripping tracks here. TAR pummels and rips pretty good, until yielding for a short time to moody and abstract introspection. Wounds Unhealed has a quick dissonant opening, and then proceeds with Vader-like brutal chug. And the opening Tectonic Plates, after viola opening and gathering static electricity, tears that fabric apart with its impending downtuned booming doom, “tectonic plates” of its title moving towards inevitable collision.

Yet it isn’t these elephantine moments that conquered my imagination in Agonia. It is the band’s ability to create that aforementioned feeling of being disoriented, lost, grasping for straws, trying to both understand and escape from reality, while losing to dejection time and again. In that sense slower and doomier Further from Ordeal, with an angelic chorus to close, melodic Excursus Ignis and Debris, the latter containing an orchestral arrangement, are absolute gems. The band prefers Potion of the Skies as its lead single and the album’s introduction, and while the track is certainly atmospheric, the higher pitched vocals make it a little bit too angsty hardcore, whereas other tracks on the album are provided with a proper death metal bottomless beastly voice.

The technicality of the album is absolutely stunning. Don’t even try to think you can play these leads if you have not been practicing guitar for years or decades on end. The number of rhythm changes (and emotions along with them) in the closer Les Ruines de Pompei will make your head spin. And when it gets to the sense of beauty, instrumental Aurora, reminding me a lot of Death’s Voice of the Soul from Sound of Perseverance, delivers with its strumming and pinched electroacoustic guitar.

Being Polish, Redemptor probably had an easier time of it signing with Selfmadegod, but Unique Leader would have been a perfect label for them. Sure, nastiness and brutality may not be Redemptor’s calling card, but this should absolutely appeal for the fans of Morbid Angel, Immolation or Decrepit Death. When you think you can anticipate the next note Redemptor takes on the album they will pull you into the unexpected dissonant direction (just listen to Les Ruines de Pompei carefully) and the pleasurable ride will continue.

Killing Songs :
Excursus Ignis, Aurora, Debris, Les Ruines de Pompei
Alex quoted 90 / 100
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