Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Agony Scene In Retrospect

The year 2003 was a huge year for metalcore. Many big and important bands had either released an album in 2003, or did heavy touring for important albums released in 2002. Many bands associated with this early scene benefited as well. Bands looking to forge their own path had got their foot in the door at a relatively early stage in the game, and this is where The Agony Scene fits in.

The Agony Scene in 2003

It was at this point in 2003, a significant record label for metalcore at the time released a self titled album for a band known as The Agony Scene. That record label was Solid State, known some for good christian metalcore bands. The association with this record label in their early stages would probably both help and hinder the popularity of The Agony Scene. Surely many christians interested in metalcore were exposed to The Agony Scene simply for being on Solid State Records, although secular audiences also picked up on the self-titled album. Later, The Agony Scene would state they were not in fact a christian band after they had signed to Roadrunner Records.

The self-titled album from The Agony Scene was something I consider to be significantly different from typical melodic metalcore. Many people made comparisons to Gothenburg, but I saw The Agony Scene as taking a heavy influence from 80's thrash. The vocals were high and raspy, gaining a lot of comparison to black metal. The breakdowns in the songs were often well-hidden to the average listener. Some of the breakdowns were of the “one-note-chug” variety, but with a much more original thrash feeling. The other half of the breakdowns were in fact run by the drums with more creative riffs thrown on top. The Agony Scene had made an impact in the world of metalcore at that time as a standout band doing something original.

There was a mass signing of metalcore bands to labels in 2004, most of those artists being clone bands putting their first album out. Some smaller bands moved on to bigger labels though, and The Agony Scene was one such band who got signed to Roadrunner in 2004. Trivium also got signed to Roadrunner in 2004

The Darkest Red was released in 2005. In many respects it continued much of the same formula followed on their self titled album. The main exceptions were inclusion of a few more songs with clean singing. "Prey", "Screams Turn To Silence", "Procession", "My Dark Desire" were four out of six songs to feature more sing-along style choruses. Also different from the first album were the fact that all the songs on The Darkest Red all had a verse/charous format, as some of the song on the previous effort eschewed that structure.

The Agony Scene in 2005

Maybe it was the signing to Roadrunner Records and the inclusion of more clean vocals in 2005's The Darkest Red that put some more underground followers of The Agony Scene off. The promotion for that album from Roadrunner didn’t last for long, as soon after, Roadrunner would be busy dumping their money into Trivium. The Agony Scene appeared on only a few tours, and their merchandise wasn’t very diverse either. More underground styled bands need to tour in order to survive and keep the momentum of the band going, and more merch offered from the same types of underground bands helps immensely.

Now signed to Abacus Records with a new album getting primed to go, perhaps The Agony Scene can get some of the things they weren’t able to get on Roadrunner Records, such as more promotion, better tours and more of them, and better merchandise.

In the end, the music produced by The Agony Scene is an important element to the world of metalcore, as both albums as very good, and provide a much needed break to the constant cloning of Gothenburg styled bands.

The Agony Scene
Sold State Records
The Agony Scene At Roadrunner Records
Abacus Records


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