The Lineup Is Breached But Not Broken: 5 Reasons To Dig Gates of Horn and Ivory

Yes, I’m aware I’m late to the party on this one. Still, it has to be said, the Agonist’s (sorta) new single is a face shredder. Take a listen, I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Then on to my itemized list of why the new single is rad as shit.

5. The Dynamics

Yup, the Agonist’s instrumentation is rock solid as ever. Never content to just lay kick-drums under a section and call it heavy, the guitar work is machine-gun quick, chuggy, riffy awesomeness. Until it’s time to slow things down for the chorus. Then you will sit and fucking wait for the chord change damn it. And you will enjoy it. While the drums take it easy. The use of dynamics is nuanced, making every section pop just right.

4.The Chorus

With a vocalist change, there are obviously worries. So much of the hookiness of a song relies on the ability to write and carry a sweet chorus, that when Alissa White-Gluz left for Arch Enemy it seemed inevitable that the songs would lose something. Fortunately, the chorus of Gates is huge. All together now “With fire at my back, I will tame the waters. I will learn to swim. Fear is not my master.” It’s been stuck in my head since first listen, and there are going to be some mammoth sing-alongs at future Agonist gigs.

3. The Structure

One aspect of the Agonist I love is  their non-adherence to conventional structure. They’ve broken the conventional intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-midsection-chorus structure continuously, to enormous success. And they’re still doing it. See that big ol’ hooky chorus up there? It only shows up twice, a wise decision, given that the slow nature of the chorus compared  to the quicker  than bullets nature of the rest of the song could unbalance  the entire edifice if it was given a third run. This leads to a perfect mix of brutality and beauty, which seems like an apt descriptor for the band’s entire back catalog. Full marks for mature songwriting instincts.

2. The Lyrics

I covered the chorus. It’s pretty, isn’t it? But the harder edged stuff is covered too. I’m just going to let this speak for  itself.

How do I Breathe?
You will choke
How do I walk?
You will fall
Instinct to the extinct
Paralysis by analysis

Trapped in delusions
Ghosts are out to haunt you
The world you’ve grown to love
Is slowly crumbling

1. Vicky Psarakis

You’re following Alissa White-Gluz. There are three high tier albums of catchy metal behind you. It’s a tough chair to sit in. Fortunately, Psarakis is up to the challenge. Her scream is closer to a black metal cackle than White-Gluz’ deeper death metal growl, but it works perfectly. The menace is still turned up to eleven. And when it’s time to clean things up she’s just as capable. Again, you can feel she lives in a slightly different vocal range to White-Gluz, but it’s definitely not a downgrade. She fits in with the material just as well, maybe even a bit better. Turns out the lady has a set of pipes you could use to play the Scottish national anthem. The vocalist slot is in safe hands technically.

Bonus Reason: The single has a cute friend.

There’s the actual new single. Don’t say I never gave you anything. You can pick up the new album, Eye of Providence, on Itunes on February 24th 2014. Now excuse me. There’s a replay button that needs a paddlin’.


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