||AGONY FACE (SALT MERCHANTS)
'CLX Stormy Quibbligs'
Agony Face's 'CLX Stormy Quibbligs' appeared in my mailbox along with the question of whether this album was reviewable or not. They adopt the tag 'Surrealistic Death Metal' and claim that their music reaches high levels of eclecticism through an insane creative process that blends several musical genres and sounds, creating artsy soundscapes that are unconventional within the metal genre. Here's a description from their bio, which is interesting to say the least:
"AGONYFACE (salt merchants) play extreme music heavily influenced by many other genres all put together by crazy artistic-philosophic matters, this genre has been named SURREALISTIC DEATH METAL. It's a progression of atmospheres and eclectic riffs that are blended inside complex melodic structures and intricate harmonies; instrumental parts and synth come like thunders to complete this progressive Death Metal auditive storm...
"...In definitive "CLX Stormy Quibbligs" is an eclectic mix of Progressive Death Metal fulfilled with psychedelic echoes, a surrealistic overview rich of epic and grotesque matters, a schizophrenic extreme piece of Metal played and cenceived with modern technical progressive elements."
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I think the description is a bit misleading, but I would definitively describe Agony Face as a really good band. 'CMS Stormy Quibblings' really doesn't sound like a product of surrealist disciplines (you know... automatic writing, dream referencing, representation of illogical soundcapes, etc.). Actually, this seems to be quite a well-measured record. A product of devoted musicians who had their minds in it and made conscious decisions instead of riding shotgun while offering the driving seat to 'insanity'. This music belongs to the universe of technical and progressive metal. It has heavy and complex riffs, polyrhythms, jazzy/funky bass lines. It is played with enough precision and way too carefully crafted to be associated so much with automatism the extreme spontaneity of the surreal art.
The guys nail it on the head when citing Cynic, Nocturnus, Pestilence Atheist and the like as their inspirations. Contemporary bands with similar influences tend to drown themselves in sterile technical saturation while Agony Face stand out by keeping their guitar licks tasty, avoiding wankery and injecting their songs with an inspired melodic sense. I appreciate bands that adopt a contemporary approach without sounding fabricated. And since death metal is their musical basis the vocals are guttural screams, but they're angst filled, expressive and full of emotion (hatred I suppose), just how I like vocals in my Death Metal.
Their bio also mentioned 70s Prog bands such as King Crimson, PFM and Banco del MutuoSoccorso! Again, I wouldn't say that these influences represent the basis of their songs, but Agony Face are indeed creating contrasts between their heavier/dense sections with cleaner passages that rely on clean guitars and synths for a more atmospheric experience.The extravagant part of Agony Face's concept can be seen in more in their visual side. The use of Roman numerals, surrealist imagery and cryptic references which servesan overall weird presentation. An exaggeration of the pretentious 'hyper(pseudo) intellectual' character that is part of some of some of theprog/tech experiences. I really don't know if there is a deep meaning behind all this but I go along and enjoy the ride.
Agony Face's written premise made me long for something that my favorite 'weird' musicians (Mike Patton, Devin Townsend, Trey Spruance) would do. I got something different but it was pretty good. What worries me is that fans could stray away from this band due to them being marketed with the words 'phylosophical', 'crazy', 'surrealist' and being perceived as too weird when they're really not. So... If you like their cited influences make sure you check them out.This is not an “exquisite corpse” but it is an exquisite record.