As the World Dies – Agonist Review

It’s a cool thing when an upstart record label distinguishes itself from the pack, builds a formidable roster of fresh talent and established acts, and rises to a level of dependable high quality. Such is the case with Transcending Obscurity, the label’s reliability allowing for a far less risky proposition when lurking in the promo pit and searching for quality acts to discover. Hailing from the UK, As the World Dies come with solid pedigree attached, featuring members of Memoriam and Pemphigoid. Eager to blast their own path of dominance, the band enlisted the services of several notable guest vocalists to add some beef and retro death metal charm to the bludgeoning proceedings. Karl Willets (Bolt Thrower), David Ingram (Benediction) and Kam Lee (Massacre) lend their vocal talents to the scorched, deathly arsenal unleashed. Now with your interest piqued by a new act boasting scene experience and star power, how does their debut LP, Agonist fare?

As the World Dies scaffold their scorched style from the pillars of their influences to create a modern take on classic death metal, blending mild industrial flourishes and gloomy atmospheres with taut riffage, buzzing Swedeath grooves, and crushing Bolt Thrower heft. “Annulment” dabbles in samples and is steeped in doomy industrial vibes, creating an interesting, if not entirely compelling, beginning to the journey. These little stylistics quirks add elements of surprise and versatility to an album that blends urgent, thrashing aggression, chunky mid-paced gallops, and generously dispersed threads of sinister melody.

Frontman Jay Price handles lead vocals, though the array of guests and contributors allows for a multi-faceted vocal approach. Ingram’s powerful growls bring added intensity and grunt to the doomy, predominantly mid-paced crunch of “The Tempest,” enlivened with some quicker bursts and expressive melodies. Elsewhere, Agonist flits between battle-hardened blasts of meaty death, atmospheric breathers, and beefy grooves. This certainly succeeds in creating a diverse approach, loaded with ample shifts in tempo and moody vibes. On the flipside, when certain variables fall flat the material suffers, or at least fails to convincingly engage. The likes of “Red Death,” “Day of Reckoning,” and “Save the Earth” each have their strengths and shared weaknesses. The bleeping atmospherics, sleepy melo-death traits, and shortage of gripping hooks and ripping speed, reveal underwhelming final compositions.

“Desolate” showcases the appeal of when As the World Dies unleash raging bursts of blackened speed and a thrashier approach, not utilized nearly enough for my liking. The mixed bag songwriting hits a welcome upturn toward the album’s later stages, following a patchy mid-section. Leaning into the more effective aspects of their moodier, melodic approach, “Until You’ve Bled” conjures some nastier, blood churning grooves, highlighted by a strong lead vocal from Janneke de Rooy. “Thin out the Herd” is another killer tune featuring a more urgent, bludgeoning attack, stickier hooks, and greater memorability. The more inspired guest vocal spots also serve to highlight the less remarkable vocal performances, adding to the album’s inconsistencies. At a reasonably timed 46 minutes, Agonist occasionally drags, and interest flees. Urges to revisit the material when the album closes out with the solid, Lee fronted, tank-like surge of the title track, are largely absent, excluding the handful of more impactful jams.

As the World Dies boast scene cred and grizzled guest stars, coupled with tight musicianship, thick riffage and an accomplished mix of classic and modern death metal tropes. The musical recipe and talent involved suggest something special. However, I cannot shake the nagging disappointment lingering underneath the surface of the album. There are certainly some top-notch tunes, which place emphasis on the weaker songs and uncut fat. Holistically, Agonist suffers from inconsistent execution and shortfall of genuine exciting or memorable songs. However, I can imagine plenty of death heads finding greater appeal and mileage than what I was able to muster.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbp/s mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Websites: facebook.com/BrumDeathMetal | astheworlddies.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: March 25th, 2022

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