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On the face of things, Agiel are your standard Unique Leader brutal Death Metal band. They've got the crushing riffs coming at you from all angles, crazy bass guitar twanging and slamming all over the place, stomach tearing vocal abuse and drums that are tighter than a knat's arse. However, these guys stand out from the pack because they actually use (prepare yourselves traditionalists) keyboards.
Things tend to pass by very quickly in the world of Agiel, riffs uncontrollably spinning towards your ears whilst running through every scale under the sun, solos whipping around like electrical surges, insanely fast drumwork pounding it all into shape with a thick drizzling of bile on top. The keyboards as previously mentioned are generally an afterthought, used sparingly and set pretty low in the overall chaotic mix, but when they are used they do manage to add a fairly refreshing sound compared to your every day brutal/tech Death Metal band. They're especially well used on the rare occasion when they slow down, leaving the keyboards to sweep through to create a eerie atmosphere similar to that of a non-eastern sounding Nile, but these times are few and far between.
If you're not into the likes of Deeds of Flesh or Braindrill, Agiel won't do anything for you at all. However, if you think the likes of Suffocation just aren't technical/fast/brutal enough for you these days, these babies might be right up your alley.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com
This is a difficult album to absorb. At root it's standard stuff for the Unique Leader label, which means Agiel sounds a lot like a not-quite-as-good Suffocation. Your tolerance for not-quite-as-good Suffocation will in large part determine your reaction to this album. What else Agiel brings to the table is a hint of old school atmosphere - a little more reverb, a little more chaos, a little more of that feeling that you just woke up to find out a cult has drugged and kidnapped you, and is getting ready to cut you to pieces for the devil's birthday party. This vibe is welcome in a crowded field of hyper-cleanly produced death metal bands that seem to have lost the edge of danger death metal used to have.
The music here is highly aggressive, up-tempo brutal death. Guitars play complex, technical riffs while the drummer somehow manages to keep up. Tempo and rhythm changes are common, but not so frequent as to overwhelm the song structures. It's definite that the members of Agiel can all really play. An unusual amount of attention is paid to bass in the mix - the bass is frequently slapping and popping, and it bubbles to the surface every so often to make itself heard over the din. This really worked for me, but your mileage may vary. Some people don't like slap-bass in their death metal. Me, I quite enjoy it, and this guy knows what he's doing.
On to the more unusual elements. Vocals are layered, overlapping, and generally incomprehensible. If there is a single aspect of the band that most creates the feeling of A Wall Of Chaos, it's those vocals. It almost sounds like four separate, fairly generic death metal singers are singing all at once - and they didn't always coordinate their actions beforehand. It works most of the time but generally the vocals just exist as part of the vibe, more so than as a leading sound in the music. Beyond the vocals, Agiel also uses a lot more keyboards than your average brutal death band. The parts are usually subtle and just underline guitar melodies, so this tends to be atmospheric more than anything. At times you might confuse the keyboards for reverb or an effect on the guitars rather than a separate instrument. It helps Agiel stand out from the crowd a bit, which isn't a bad thing.
Songwriting here is verging on chaotic, but some tracks and especially some riffs are memorable, which is better than average for this genre. Overall I give a moderately warm thumbs up to Agiel, and would be willing to buy their next album, if they ever make one.