CXVI Evolving Discharges

Agony Face

"I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey." When in […]
By Sean McGuirk
January 3, 2019
Agony Face - CXVI Evolving Discharges album cover

"I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey." When in doubt, start with a quote. That's what they say to do after you've had your mind scrambled for 40 minutes by Italian self-described Surrealistic Death Metal band AGONY FACE and their particularly brutal brand of schizophrenic Death Jazz and you are tasked with writing a review of said carnage. In fact, it is a strange journey, as the sample at the end of the crushing opener, "The Ionization", suggests. "CXVI Evolving Discharges" is the quintet's third full-length album, following the release of their demo in 2007. After a couple key lineup changes, the latest being the addition of bassist, Mirko Montrasio, the band have solidified their dedication to playing Technical Death Metal with less of an emphasis on the Technical and more on the genre's Avant Garde and Progressive elements, inspired by Italian Prog founding fathers like Premiata Forneria Marconi and BANCO del Mutuo SoccorsO. This new focus serves them well on "Evolving Discharges", as they deftly avoid most of the negative connotations that have been put on, so-called, Math Metal; being soulless, full of masturbatory guitar scales with sudden meaningless tempo shifts. They instead create an album, 41 minutes in length, that is as entertaining as it is indefinable.

Indeed, the songs seem to revolve, most refreshingly, around the amazing bass playing from Montrasio and the mind-boggling battery of Alessandro Bassi with the guitars further in the back adding texture and flavor to the Prog proceedings. That's not to say there aren't some really incredible guitar moments on the album, like the astonishing solo section almost five minutes into "Marrakech Prostitute" that is almost shocking in its earnestness.

"Connection" is a standout track that starts with some Djent-style guitar riffing and turns into a proggy Post-Metal diddy about three quarters of the way through. The song ends with an entrancing synth hook, followed by some tasteful acoustic piano. "Reality Check" has a distinct Chuck Schuldiner vibe in its off-kilter melodic riffs with some Hoglan-esque pounding from Bassi. The confusing "Mat(H) Bat(H) 3+3+3" is all over the map, beginning with an almost folkish VED BUENS ENDE feel, driven by some clean arpeggiate guitars and turning shortly into something like a mashup of "Human"-era DEATH and SUICIDE SILENCE with a SPASTIC INK interlude thrown in for good measure.  Indeed, in the album's best moments, it often feels like two, or sometimes three, songs are playing on top of each other in an odd mutually-beneficial relationship.

The lyrical focus on Surrealism is a tad heavy-handed in its delivery (the music is confusing enough, the track name coding seems a tad overboard), but it serves to recall, refreshingly, bands like ATHEIST and MEKONG DELTA rather than the more sterile sci-fi leanings of ORIGIN or NOCTURNUS. The Surrealist approach can be heard in the music, as well as the album closer; "WANDERING THROUGH CEREBRAL PATHS" feels almost like a deconstruction of Melodic Death Metal. Containing many of the genre's hallmarks, including a nice minor key build and soaring payoff, it's almost like if someone took an INSOMNIUM album into The Shimmer in the movie "Annihilation" and it mutated into a Dali-esque nightmare, in a good way.

With a glut of Tech Death bands having birthed in the past several years, taking up residence in the space left behind by bands like CYNIC and GORGUTS, it takes a lot for a band to separate themselves from the chaff. AGONY FACE have made a huge step with "CXVI Evolving Discharges," a more varied, yet somehow more cohesive effort than their previous albums that consistently subverts common technical death pitfalls and truly surprises.<

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








When clicked, this video is loaded from YouTube servers. See our privacy policy for details.
"CXVI Evolving Discharges" Track-listing:

1. XXV The Ionization
2. XXIII Waffle
3. XXIII Connection
4. XXIV Mat(H) Bat(H) 3+3+3
5. XX Marrakech Prostitute
6. XIX Reality Check
7. XIX Mantra of Sulphur
8. XXI Wandering Through Cerebral Paths

Agony Face Lineup:

Davide Guarinoni - Vocals
Riccardo Ricotti - Guitar
Alessandro Uberti - Guitar
Mirko Montrasio - Bass
Alessandro Bassi - Drums

linkcrossmenucross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram