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An unfair pair-up - 69%

MacMoney, May 23rd, 2009

This split between Finland's Slugathor and Hungary's Age of Agony follows the rather well-tread formula of one original song and one cover song from each. Nothing wrong with that though. It offers a taste of the band itself as well as something that might be more known to people not that well-versed in things Slugathor and/or Age of Agony. Slugathor's own track was recorded at the same time as their second album, Circle of Death and could pretty much fit right into the album. I have a hard time trying to peg down Slugathor's style exactly since they straddle a fine line between most extremes of death metal. They are not old school, but draw influences from early death metal and apply it to create something of their own. While their songs are complex and consist of numerous parts with different tempos, they aren't exactly technical either. You can hear Suffocation's Pierced from Within in their songs, but Slugathor doesn't use breakdowns nor do their songs suffer from the lack of flow that often plagues Suffocation. Their specialty is the brutal mid-paced crushing and while Reign of the Supreme contains that as well, it has a surprisingly large amount of fast parts with blastbeats. The production is perhaps a bit too clean and nice for death metal of this style and the guitars aren't as powerful as you'd like, but they do serve their purpose. The vocalist is, as always, deep as all hell and that fits the crushing, mid-paced music very well. Their cover of Hungarian Tormentor's Tormentor is a very fanciful piece. The production values are a bit lower. The guitars are rather tinny and the bass overpowering, but vocalist sounds like his deep self though someone does throw in a very high pitched scream which usually elicits a chuckle.

Hungary's Age of Agony is another kind of beast. Their style is more frantic and speedy. They're not shy about tremolo riffs or blastbeats. While their riffs evolve rather cleverly into each other sometimes, often they are rather simplistic and with the songwriting being as immature and primitive as it is on Question, it just doesn't work. The transitions from one part of the song to another are rather awkward and make it sound disjointed. The drums are simplistic, especially the cymbal work. The crashes sound totally wrong, much too small a sound. Actually, I'm not even sure if they are crashes or some more rarely used cymbal, but they don't fit at all. It sounds like the drummer is hitting porcelain saucers instead of actual metal. The vocalist does an alright with a rather powerful and even growl though he does get quite unclear and muffled at times. The cover of Nunslaughter shows that the band has potential if they can get their songwriting into gear. They perform it adequately, even the drummer doing a proficient job there when someone else shows him the beats. It is evident that Slugathor is the much more experienced band here.