The Agony Scene - The Darkest Red review


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Band: The Agony Scene
Album: The Darkest Red
Release date: May 2005

01. Prelude
02. The Darkest Red
03. Scars Of Your Disease
04. Screams Turn To Silence
05. Sacrifice
06. Prey
07. Procession
08. Suffer
09. My Dark Desire
10. Scapegoat
11. Forever Abandoned
12. Devilock [Misfits cover] [Japanese bonus]

Hello darkness my old friend.

Scratching the surface of any genre is always a gamble; for every unearthed album that will have you wondering how this band never broke big, you will find yourself listening to a lot of fodder and third rate rubbish. Luckily for anyone who happens to have come across the The Agony Scene, you will find yourself more so in the former camp. While the The Darkest Red has its limitations, it is an album that is a time capsule of a moment when metalcore was everywhere and had a healthy underground scene; do yourself a favour a give it a go if your curiosity gets the better of you.

The album sits in the mid-to-upper range musically for much of the album, with tracks like "Scars Of Your Disease" and "My Dark Desire" sounding generic yet enjoyable all the same. Given The Darkest Red was released right when metalcore was at its peak, it is easy to see why the band got lost in the shuffle; as enjoyable as they are, they sounded very similar to those they were in competition with. If you are a fan of the genre or want something familiar yet new, then this won't be an issue for you; indeed, I only became aware of the band long after the genre was in its ascendence and as a result tracks like "Sacrifice" and "Scapegoat" are enjoyable as they felt new to me, rather than being lost in the midst of the dime-a-dozen bands.

The one thing the band have in their favour are the guitarists; Emmons and Hodges play some of the most recognisable parts of metalcore that are derivative but damn fun at the same time. The riffing on tracks like "Screams Turn To Silence" or "The Darkest Red" are a dime a dozen, but it's unfiltered and pure metalcore, which is still enjoyable though not groundbreaking at this point. What you went into this for will affect the milage you get out of it.

This does rebound and come back to haunt the band in places; while they hit all the tropes, they come to hit the same shortcomings as well. Perhaps one of the biggest issues is that the band are unable to hold your attention except when they are keeping things up-tempo or in groove sections. When the band drop the tempo and try to evoke a feeling on atmosphere in sections of tracks like "Sacrifice", they just kill all their momentum stone dead before having to pick it up as the song moves forward.

What does drag this album down to its lowest points is Williams' vocals; his harsh vocals sound so phlegmy, as if he had recorded his vocals while suffering from a bad case of the cold. Given the prominence of his vocals, it is hard to avoid and detracts from what the rest of the band are doing. Perhaps to fit in better among the metalcore crowd they were aiming for, Williams changes his approach for the worse, given he was far better on Get Damned. When you compare both styles you can hear that his attempts to imitate a roar rather than a growl were a change for the worse.

Added to the fact that Williams often takes centre stage in the mix, the album does suffer from some awful production, sounding very condensed and limited. Tracks like "Prey" sound like they could fill a large room but are instead stuffed into a cage that require you to look in rather than just immerse yourself in it. This does hinder the songs' qualities given that they can't soar when they want to, which can offer some of the most exciting moments in the genre (see Killswitch Engage's "My Curse" as a good example of this).

A mixed though generally enjoyable release, while it won't have you running to uncover the rest of the band's work, it does offer glimpses that The Agony Scene do have some good tracks to their name.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 5
Production: 7


Written on 16.02.2021 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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