Agiel – Dark Pantheons by Scrios

Rating: 3.5    
Distributor/label: Deepsend Records
Released: 18.02.2014
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[ALBUM] [James Keating] [Scrios] Agiel - Dark Pantheons [Draft]Band line-up:

James Taylor (vocals/synth/programming)
Kevin Kostyk (Drums/Percussion)
Jesse Carson (Guitars)
Rich Buzzel (bass)

Track listing:

1.    Dark Pantheons
2.    Deeds Rendered Upon the Flesh
3.    The Awakening
4.    Serpent Masquerade
5.    Andromeda


Rochester NY based band Agiel were formed in 1997.  Dark Pantheons is their 4th release and is apparently a re-recording of material from their 2002 full length debut ‘Dark Pantheons Again Will Reign’. The band terms this EP as a ‘re-imagining’ of some of that material in preparation for the release of new material, presumably in the shape of a full length album later this year.  Having not heard the earlier album I’m not really qualified to comment on how these tracks differ from the original.  What I can say is that Agiel definitely have an interesting sound.
On the one hand the symphonic orchestration which is prevalent on this release is akin to the type of grandiose symphonic gestures that Dimmu Borgir have experimented with on recent releases with clean choral vocals underlying James Taylor’s undeniably death metal style growl, on the other a more brutal death metal sound brings to mind Hate Eternal and Anata.

Indeed on first listen the two facets of Agiel’s sound seem at odds with one another and this disparity can seem quite jarring and I have to admit that I had my doubts about whether the two styles really belonged together.  But as the tracks progressed it actually all started to coagulate quite well and on repeated listens it really became clear what Agiel are trying to achieve with this release.  The melding of the newer, brutal death metal style leanings with the epic keys and backing vocals actually leads to a chaotic kind of cohesion which brings to mind later day Emperor and Cattle Decapitation.

In the end this turmultuous sound is what sets Agiel apart and although it is clear where some of their influences originate, the sum of what they have achieved here is far greater than that.  In this world where, even in extreme metal it would seem more and more that everyone likes their music packaged into all the little genre boxes it’s good to see a band attempting to step away from this and actually produce something different.

This is a fitting introduction to Agiel as they stand today and I have high hopes for their future material.