May 12, 2012

Agnosis - A Painful Pattern EP ...

Agnosis are back, and they couldn’t come back to action in a better form.
They are back with a pill of doom that is hopefully hinting to a bigger dose of it in a near future. Because after you take this pill, you’ll feel the need for more …The new EP A Painful Pattern was released during late 2011, i.e. six years after Agnosis’ last releases, the  beautiful full-length album Zero and the EP Hecate, and a period of stand-by during which several things happened and evolved. The renewal of the line-up had been announced last year, and it saw the involvement of drummer Austin L. Lunn aka A. Lundr, founder of Seidr and the cult American black metal band Panopticon, in addition to the original members Austin P. Lunn on guitars and vocals and Andrew Jude Riotto on bass. Meanwhile Andrew Jude had kept himself busy with the New York collective doom monster Archon. So probably the new blood and the interacting experience with so many diverse musicians in Archon might have triggered a sort of evolution in the style of the new Agnosis. Because there’s a “new” and there’s an “old” Agnosis …

Old Agnosis were a great doom band playing a highly spurious, flamboyant mixture of Sabbathian heavy doom and filthy swampy sludge contaminated by death/thrash/hardcore as well as classic old-school heavy metal, grunge, horror rock, prog and post-metal. A cool “mess” resulting in a very personal, infectious, heavy, dynamic and evil-sounding style that may have left purists a bit puzzled but that was anyway difficult to ignore. The new Agnosis seem to have lost or got rid of some of the contaminants and play a more classic type of doom, which may be a bit unexpected especially if A. Lundr’s original black metal affiliation of is considered. The sound may have steered a bit towards other directions, however what is not lost in the “new” Agnosis is heaviness and the ability of composing some powerful, epic and highly involving slabs of metal. The new EP is only slightly longer than 30 minutes (too short!) and includes an instrumental intro (The Weight of Distrust) drenched in epic atmospheres created by progressively growing background guitar sounds interacting with a solemn, echoing tribal slow drumming that may recall the empty spaces of the Scottish Highlands more than New York’s skyscrapers. The solemnity further develops in the majestic 6:47 minutes-long track The Path of Repeated Failures which opens with a fantastic and absolutely classic, menacing, dark, distorted Sabbathian riffage. This leading riffage progresses with the pace and the menacing and meandering way typical of a crocodile or a big snake and is the host of Austin Lunn’s waves of raging roars. The celebration of pure Sabbathian heaviness and darkness empowered by the aggression of sludgy vocals. Impressive …

The subsequent track, Writing by Candlelight, is 13:47 minutes-long suite that reprises the epic feelings introduced by the opening track. This occurs by means of, again, a great leading riffage building up a slow, solemn and mournful leading melody evoking a funereal march along a wind-beaten harsh coast. A. Lunn’s menacing or tortured roars either overlap with the distorted guitar sounds or emerge in the periodical pauses in the plodding rhythm of the sound like the painful screams of a man drowning in a swamp or imprisoned in a dark cave. The beauty of this stunning track lies in many features, like, for example, the peculiar sound of the guitars and the contrast between the sober, mournful and epic power of the leading melody and the disrupted and torn features of the vocal parts, which are more howled out, or spit out than sung. The intrinsic slowness of the leading melody is further reinforced by an almost silent interval between 8 and 9 minutes, where the plodding sound basically ceases and leaves space to a delicate interplay of guitar and soft but powerful tribal drumming. After that short silence an amazing surge of riffs and roars takes place until the plodding refrain comes back and progresses til it slowly fades away.
An awesome “extended” cover of Pentagram’s All Your Sins will keep you busy for the last 7:41 minutes of this great EP. The groovy heaviness typical of Pentagram is here taken to utmost heaviness and, especially, density. Again a meandering, wavy melody has been chosen by the band for developing their sludgy, molasse-dense, mammoth-heavy riffage  resembling a vortex of slow-moving molten lava.  And the deep sludgy roaring vocals, contributed by mighty Dave Sherman from Earthride, and so different from Bobby Liebling’s acid vocals, further contribute in turning this snail-paced and more “viscous” reinterpretation into a crushingly heavy doom song of much higher impact than the original one.

What’s new in the “new” Agnosis? Probably nothing. But their way of writing (and of re-writing) doom of the most classic, groovy, Sabbathian/Pentagram/Cathedral-type is awesome. Swampy sludge metal is in Agnosis’ DNA and is effectively contributing to the strength of the sound. However what struck me also in this EP was the great sense of epic, darkness and the atmospheres obtained without straying too much from doom. I guess this load of epic feelings and solemn to grim atmospheres might be an indirect contribution of the satellite musical experiences involving Agnosis’ members. Go and listen to Archon and, say, Panopticon, and you’ll find loads of impressive suggestions … The production is another feature that makes this EP stand out as it is able to render sounds crystalline clear and vibrating as well as thick and murky at the same time, to make them perfectly three-dimensional, “round” even on a digital version.  Time ago during an interview on Doommantia the Agnosis’ guys said that they had already written these songs years ago, at the time of Hecate EP, and that they have more stuff composed and done in that spirit. This will be out hopefully soon. In the meantime get hold of this splendid slab of doom.   …………………………….    10/10

Words by Marilena Moroni

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