The Agonist - Lullabies For The Dormant Mind
Century Media
Melodic Death Metal/Deathcore
11 songs (43:38)
Release year: 2009
Century Media
Reviewed by Goat

Taking a less Metalcore-y path than on their 2007 debut, Lullabies For The Dormant Mind proves Canadians The Agonist to be amongst the best in their odd little genre. Somewhere between Deathcore and Melodic Death, with a notably experimental route to songwriting, it’s immediately obvious how much heavier an album this is than before. The obvious comparison is to Job For A Cowboy, the much-maligned posterboys of The New Wave Of Whatever They’re Calling Modern Death Metal These Days, but The Agonist are obviously different due to the presence of vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, who is not only the hottest thing this side of Lacuna Coil (call me sexist, but don’t deny it; you’re 70% more likely to check them out now I’ve said that!) but who also has a rather fantastic set of (cough) pipes. From girlish croons to Angela Gossow-beating snarls and screams to deep grunting Brutal Death growls, she’s the most varied female vocalist I’ve come across in a while, and assuming that Century Media and YouTube aren’t involved in some secret plot to hide the truth, she seems quite capable of reproducing it all live without studio trickery.

As for the music itself, it’s hard to describe. There are a lot of influences all mixed together, Melodeath and Deathcore the most obvious ones but someone in the band clearly listens to Black Metal (the driving blastbeats of The Sentient, for example, or the furious introduction to And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep) and there’s some Power Metal vibes on Thank You, Pain – the song structures seem surprisingly progressive at times. More often than not synths are blasting over the music, often creating a chaotic, complex sound, and it’ll take a couple of listens to appreciate the songs properly. The entire band are skilled, especially drummer Simon McKay and guitarist Danny Marino (apparently the nephew of Frank Marino from Mahogany Rush, which may mean more to our Canadian readers than it does to me) although there are times when the guitar riffs seem a little... stock, to borrow a phrase from Denmark’s biggest export. That may just be because the guitars get a little buried at times under the synths and Alissa, although they do serve a better purpose giving the music a general punch. Of course, there are rather great solos here and there, and in any case the band are much developed dynamically, allowing the music to progress without obvious verse-chorus-verse structures.

This is certainly more exciting than anything Arch Enemy have done in years, although people who have a real vendetta against Metalcore may well disagree. The album as a whole is melodic but songs like the aforementioned And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep have a punch to them that’s hard to ignore. Although it flows well, Lullabies For The Dormant Mind does suffer a little from its tracks being a bit samey, the a capella interlude from Swan Lake being one standout (and assuming again that it’s actually Alissa doing it all, it’s pretty darn impressive and certainly puts the likes of Annette Olzon to shame). Anyone who listens to anything heavier than In Flames will have little trouble with this, as it’s pleasantly catchy throughout, even with more typically Death Metal moments like When The Bough Breaks’ intro. One issue I do have with it is Alissa – although she’s great, she does tend to overshadow the music when she’s doing her thing, which is 90% of the time. The only real instrumental section is on final track Chlorpromazine, an experimental Eastern-tinged interlude a real highlight and suggesting better things in the future if The Agonist can run with its experimental impulses. Yet taking this as one of my increasingly frequent dips into the Metalcore pond, The Agonist have been a nice surprise, a pleasure that isn’t at all guilty and that many Melodeath fans will find enjoyable if they ignore the band’s Metalcore tag and listen with an open mind.

Killing Songs :
And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep, Birds Elope With The Sun, Globus Hystericus, Chlorpromazine
Goat quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by The Agonist that we have reviewed:
The Agonist - Eye of Providence reviewed by Joel and quoted 88 / 100
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