Album Review: ANTAGONY Ashes (With Full Album Stream)
It's no surprise that we here at Metal Injection have been fans and supporters of Bay Area-based deathcore pioneers Antagony. The group has a rich history, which you can delve into in the Dawn of Deathcore: The Story of Antagony documentary here, featuring interviews with All Shall Perish, Fallujah, The Zenith Passage, etc. Overall, the band's ability to innovate on the deathcore subgenre in a way that undoubtedly influenced other big names in the scene now is proof that Antagony should remain a household name in the communities of both metal and hardcore.
While the outfit was inactive over the past decade, they announced their reunion last month with the lineup consisting of Carlos Saldana (Connoisseur; vocals), Nick Vasallo (Oblivion; vocals, guitar), Ben Orum (All Shall Perish, Oblivion; guitar), Bray Almini (Suffokate; bass), and Luis Martinez (Oblivion, The Zenith Passage; drums). In addition to reuniting, they will also be releasing their fourth LP titled Ashes. In many scenarios when a band reunites after such a lengthy period, there's most certainly high expectations for new material. Especially considering Antagony's title of being one of the first deathcore bands, I was enticed to see how the band that shaped the sound of the subgenre now compares to the modern heavy-hitters like Thy Art is Murder, Lorna Shore, Black Tongue, Enterprise Earth, Fit For An Autopsy, etc.
Opening track "A Killing" signals the beginning of the experimental deathcore onslaught with a shrieking battle cry followed by the war between dissonant chugs and unexpected lead licks. Within this three-minute piece, the band demonstrates their diversity as they switch between far over ten musical passages and ideas, glueing each guitar riff and lick seamlessly. While not exactly stylistically on par with The Dillinger Escape Plan or The Tony Tap Dance Extravaganza, the rapid changes indicate a similar mathcore element.
Although the concept of constant musical shifts creates a lacking memorability for these tracks, Antagony keeps things short, sweet, and straight to the point such as "Useless Fake" or "Internal Itch," which remain under the two-minute limit. On the opposite end, there are a couple songs that last over five minutes like "Kip and Mitch" and "The Mystery That Haunts You," yet succeed in having the composition remain interesting through build-ups and dynamics. A solid example of where the group balances both a variety of styles and songwriting would be the title track as shown in the lyric video above.
In the end, Antagony prove themselves to be consistently innovative in the realm of extreme music. Even after a ten year break, the band's musical and experimental qualities are on par with the aforementioned modern deathcore acts. Ashes is evidence of their boundary-breaking songwriting style and mastery of creating heavy, impactful music.