25th April 2011, Review by James Meakin
If there is one thing that Norwich based head bangers ‘Agonyst’ have never heard is that first impressions are everything. Upon picking up their most recent offering ‘Centennial’ right away you are struck by stunning lay out and art work by Jason Hicks you would be correct in assuming that this band will be as professional and tight as the presentation of their album. What the album does not tell you is that this band most definitely has a fantastic sense of humour.
From the moment this band takes the stage you must appreciate that one thing that is missing from many UK metal bands is a sense of comedy and an appreciation that what they are doing is enjoyable. Seeing a band live has almost become a chore as bands themselves do not exude any appreciation for where they are, lacking stage presence, personality as well as musical talent. Agonyst have all of these things in abundance.
The intro tape begins and the band takes the stage. It is not a contrived classical music piece or an overused war movie excerpt cliché but the theme tune from popular television show ‘Curb your Enthusiasm’. The band would make Larry David proud. Marching around on stage gurning and contorting themselves in the vein of the Three (in this case four) Stooges. However, the main pay off is the building tension. The crowd know what is going to happen it is just a question of when, the introduction tape runs out and the band explode straight into ‘Join the Evolution’. The elephantine percussive assault from Zac O’Neill is spectacular; the song exudes the power you would expect from the great pedigree these musicians come from.
I would like to use many heavy metal clichéd words like ‘brutal’, ‘deafening’ and ‘warlike’ but I think it would do this band an injustice. The venue is completely controlled by front man Louis Coates who contorts himself and grinds his teeth together chugs his way through album title track ‘Centennial’ and ‘We Are The Ones’ growling like a quarry filled with hammers is being juggled and effortlessly bringing the notes back up during the melodic passages in the epic ‘Centennial’. Truly a fantastic personal performance from Coates.
By the time the band ease the audience into the grandure of ‘Omni’ it is clear that this gig is an instant classic. The thud and snap of this bands rhythm section is stunning. Nathan Weanie’s personal stature is dwarfed by the power involved in the bass parts for ‘Omni’. It works perfectly with the twang of David Perrin’s complex guitar work on this stunning track. Not only does Mr Weanie play technically and intricately in the offbeat time signature, destroying areas of this track, but the power in the low notes is extremely commanding and firmly pins the audience to the pit of their stomach and against the back wall.
What I must stress is that despite the fact I count Nathan Weanie as a close friend I must remain objective when reviewing any band. They had to earn a good review and they most definitely did. This may not have been an ‘I was there when..’ gig but it will not be long before seeing this band in a venue of the size of the Queen of Hoxton will be impossible. Rave Bloodstock reviews and huge buzz around the new album means 2011 and 2012 will be huge years for this band. By the time they sledgehammer and scalpel their way through their closing track ‘The Gears’ it is clear that if you like British metal, nay, if you like music that will challenge you this is the band for you. I left the venue with a feeling I have not felt since the first time I saw Strapping Young Lad (a comparison to ‘Dev’ did not go unnoticed as I congratulated Louis) jaw on the ground and completely blown away. 4/5
Agonyst Headline Set:
Curb your enthusiasm intro.
Join the evolution.
We are the ones.