When Alissa White-Gluz left The Agonist to join Arch Enemy she claimed that fans knew it was “over,” which had to make one wonder about the future of The Agonist. After all, maybe Alissa knew something we didn’t, that their next album was going to suck. Plus, she left some mighty big shoes to fill, given what gruesome and powerful vocals she’d contributed to The Agonist. Suffice to say I was a little nervous the first time I played their new album, Eye of Providence. But after hearing it, I have to say I’m glad Alissa left the band. This is partially because I dig the album she did with Arch Enemy. But it’s also because I absolutely love Eye of Providence, which features the band’s killer new vocalist Vicky Psarakis, a brut force to be reckoned with, who more than fills her shoes.
If you’ve been a fan of The Agonist in the past, I suspect you’ll be more than pleased with Eye of Providence. After all, everything people have loved about them in the past remains true. You still get Simon McKay’s rapid-fire, stampeding drum assault, bassist Chris Kells’ exquisite fretwork and the mesmerizing guitar interplay between Danny Marino and Pascal Jobin. They continue to deliver socially conscious music that is a high quality blend of death metal and prog rock. The only thing that’s changed is the voice, but the difference between Alissa and Vicky isn’t massive like the difference between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. They each have their own unique voice, but the styles are similar enough that I find it hard to believe longtime fans would be disappointed with this release, which arguably finds the band at the top of their game. The only difference fans may have to adjust to would be Vicky’s symphonic metal style clean vocals. Alissa had a massive voice, but I didn’t find her clean vocals to be as far in the vein of Nightwish or Edenbridge, whereas Vicky could easily be singing for one of those bands. So, if anything, you get more power and precision from Vicky.
Eye of Providence is thirteen songs long, but there isn’t a bad apple in the bunch. From the highly infectious opener, “Gates of Horn and Ivory,” to the mighty, epic closer, “As Above, So Below,” these songs reach out and grab you, most of them delivering a sweet shock to your system not unlike the last In Flames album. If you give one song a chance, I recommend “Faceless Messenger” if you prefer their brutal metal side or “A Gentle Disease” if you prefer their prog side. The former is like sticking your head in a sink full of ice cubes and the latter is like a soothing breeze.
Eye of Providence is the inspiring sound of a band hunting for freedom and liberation in a most perilous world, the hypocritical one we live in. Join the fight.