Redemptor – Agonia Review

End of year chaos is upon us to conclude another turbulent 365, as we stave off rushing deadlines, responsibilities and festive madness. As we all know, it is also time for the AMG crew to sharpen their blades and make the tough choices to consolidate the annual list fest of fine tastes. But we must not forgo our reviewing responsibilities completely in the historically lackluster schedule for December. A small pile of quality albums can unexpectedly drop and throw a spanner in the works. Following a long break between drinks, unsung Polish juggernaut Redemptor make their welcome return. The long-running technical death metal unit have been active for some twenty years, releasing a sporadic trickle of material in the process. However, it was 2017’s moody, chunky, techy delight Arthaneum that captured my attention and landed on my end of year list. I penned a Things You Might Have Missed piece which was posted on these very pages, yet oddly has been sucked into oblivion, never to be seen again.1 Cover-ups and conspiracies aside, it was a stellar album, offering a unique voice in the tech-death field.

Aficionados of all things tech have basked in a year of remarkable quality and variety, so the challenge to rise to the high standards of their peers sits squarely on the shoulders of these wily, underrated Polish vets. First and foremost, Redemptor is not like your typical tech death band. Yes, the basic elements sit snugly into their complex framework, however, Redemptor embellish with twisty, unpredictable structures, atmospheric flourishes, shimmering post-metal, and on occasions an almost djenty, off-kilter chug. Arthaneum possessed a beguiling, ominous atmosphere swirling around knotted, dense compositions, intricate musical interplay, and a taut, impactful dose of brutality at the core. Bottom line, it was an album that caught me off guard and put me well and truly on notice. Agonia is here, finding Redemptor boasting a new rhythm section and poised to land some hammering blows on unsuspecting listeners.

Right away the sound of Agonia offers something a bit different to its predecessor. Sonically, Agonia sounds slickly polished, armed with a darkly mechanical sheen and burly tones, while a notable increase of melody and progressive exploration punctuate songs dripping with explosive aggression and sharply honed chops. It’s easy to like Redemptor‘s unique take on tech death. There’s a sparkling radiance emanating from the hyperactive, intricate guitar work of Daniel Kelser and Hubert Więcek, featuring layers of depth, intrigue and bulldozing riffs. The duo showcase theirs, and Redemptor‘s, collective adventurism on the gradually unfurling prog death slow burn of opener “Tectonic Plates.” Sedate passages giving way to rugged grooves and violent bursts of deathly warfare. Balancing progressive textures and mellower waters with tough, riffy tech death and frequently striking dynamic twists creates an intriguing listening experience.

Grooves are massive and regularly deployed to maximum impact, lending an infectious crunch on prog death bruisers “Further From Ordeal” and “”Potion of the Skies.” Vague hints of modern prog death heavyweights Alkaloid spring to mind on occasion; a welcome surprise. “Tar” highlights Redemptor‘s expert ability to shift between shady passages of restraint, shimmery post-metal, and techy-groove laden death. All the while Michal Xaay Loranc’s barbaric bellows put an authoritative rhythmic stamp on proceedings, despite being a touch overbearing on occasions. Rather than end the album with a whimper, Redemptor finish the job impressively. Epic closer “Les Ruines De Pompei” utilizes the diverse weaponry in the Redemptor toolbox to crushing effect. Acoustic passages, symphonic touches, steamrolling heaviness, and thick, doom-coated riffs flesh out an immense and imposing tune. Redemptor‘s confident and adventurous approach to their craft pays handsome dividends more often than not. A crushed master, and a tad too many sedate moments of proggy meditation put minor dampeners on an otherwise high-quality album, bubbling with creativity and trademark heft.

Redemptor may have arrived late to the party in a truly phenomenal year of tech. However, passing up on what these unsung Polish heavyweights delivered on the punishing yet melodically and progressively strong Agonia would be a grave mistake. Initially, my feelings of Agonia were a little uncertain. And while I admit to missing the meaner, grittier aesthetics of Arthaneum, Agonia is a richly rewarding listen and robust, stomping progressive tech-death platter not to be passed by.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
LabelSelfmadegod Records
Websites: redemptorpl.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/RedemptorPL
Releases Worldwide: December 3rd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. This is indeed weird and it has been corrected. – Steel
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