Metalcore fusion with a refreshing twist!

You hear one metal-core band and you've heard them all. That might be the way you'd be tempted to think with the way the music scene for metal such as this has been heading lately. But, just when you think you can't take any more of the same boring twists and unoriginal albums, there's always one ray of sunlight that saves the day by breaking through with something completely different. How refreshing it is then that 'The Agony Scene', with their mind blowing new album, 'The Darkest Red', are just that band, and what an offering it is! Hailing from a small town in Oklahoma, 'The Agony Scene' have explored a lot of nooks and crannies in the world of music, but by always striving to be a cut above the rest, they continued to search every dark and damp crevice and pushed their abilities to the limits of their musical endurance. By the sounds of 'The Darkest Red', it looks like they found it!

There really is no real way to explain how different this album is, but it really is very refreshing and unique. Blending together the very best of American heavy metal with the haunting beautify of European melodic death metal harmonies (A sure throw-back from their days of hardcore drowned influences) and punk discords that are pulled together by powerful rhythms, creates a sound that just defies all the usual standards set by bands in this genre. Melodic, yes proper melodic, singing even makes a very frequent appearance instantly adding to the music's appeal. Melodic singing with the use of proper intonation is something that is rarely found in this dark corner of the metal scene and what a refreshment it is! Growling and the obligatory death metal screaming does make an appearance too but it is well balanced and structured with the melodic singing, making it a hundred times more effective than if it were used all the way through the album. Then again, this isn't just death metal; this is a fusion of several great genres professionally blended into a delicious mix of pure musical nirvana.

The opening track, aptly named 'Prelude', just showcases right from the start just how diverse and unique this offering really is. 'Prelude' takes on an almost "techno" state, being almost completely comprised of synths and feedback from the guitarists overdrive pedals. Anyone who didn't know the kind of haunting sound that it creates would have to hear it to believe it, and the technique couldn't have been executed in a more effective manner by anyone else. The raw yet sinister haunting sounds chill the soul and captivate the mind, preparing the listener for the sheer power and melodic assault that will soon follow. 'Prelude' soon fades away and blends explosively yet smoothly into the amazing 'The Darkest Red' which purrs gently and the bass and drums set a fast paced addictive rhythm. Screeching overhead, the guitars enter and add a touch of something that's almost dance and trance-like in it's melody but yet packs all the punch of American hardcore at its best. The guitars then settle into a vicious, adrenaline pumping assault as the vocals weave in and out of screaming and melodic mode, the change-over so swift and smooth you barely even notice it. The result of this is a very unique funked-up sound; both powerful and yet strangely addictive enough to make you get up and dance around despite the obviously dark and morbid tone set by the lyrics. Already two tracks on and a highlight stumbles upon the listener, setting the standard for better things to come. 'Scars of your Disease' bares all of the good points of 'The Darkest Red' but packs a much faster, more aggressive punch. Even the growling is melodic, with the vocalist taking the time to change and variate his notation. A far cry from what many other bands would do, 'Scars of your Disease' really does threaten to smash heads together with it's sheer power; were it that music could take physical form then this song could crush the life out of even the strongest man in under a second. Vicious, abrasive and very aggressive, 'Scars of your Disease' shows off the heavier, European death metal aspects of the band's repertoire very well indeed.

The following track 'Screams Turn To Silence' is also very note-worthy and I think that if I had to choose my personal highlight of the album then this would be it. The bass and guitar purr and cascade down their rhythmic structures so incredibly well and they create an almost dance like form of hardcore that reeks of desperation and fear. The chorus is breathtaking in its sheer resonating power, and as the vocals melt and shape-shift into melodic form, the sentiment and pure emotion blows the mind. This track is the perfect blend, the absolute best of all the tracks on the album because it showcases each and every individual band member's ability in every generic area of their fusion.

When you thought that American metal-core was dead and gone, replaced forever by scream scene bands rapidly gaining only the interests of teen "moshers" into their fan bases then think again. The Agony Scene's new album is proof that there is still much to be experimented with within the world of hardcore metal. It would seem that punk and hardcore with a healthy mix of techno influences would be one of those things that would never work but, as with other such oddities like Nightwish, the only way the know for sure how well these genres work together is to just listen and try. I can promise you won't regret giving 'The Darkest Red' a listen, just like opera and power metal work together, so to does punk-techno and hardcore metal.