Antagonist is one of those super talented bands with a ton of potential, that unfortunately somehow just flew under the radar of the metalcore limelight throughout the 2000's. Forming in 1998, the group has put out several LPs and EPs, a couple being through Prosthetic Records, and continues to be active in the SoCal local scene, often playing with Zombie Eating Horse who shares their guitarist and drummer.
Within their discography, the act's identity has consistently incorporated a variety of styles from thrash, death metal, and crossover hardcore to metalcore and mathcore. Overall, they hold comparable qualities to Darkest Hour, Trivium, Martyr A.D., or The Chariot. In this recent two-track release Human Failure, Antagonist continues their legacy of stylistic variety and quality.
"Kill Count" has a lot going on within this less than two minutes piece. As previously stated, Antagonist's styles seem to span across several related subgenres, this track focusing on death metal, hardcore, mathcore, and a bit of metalcore/deathcore butting their head in. And although each of these subgenres naturally overlap, the way the band composes, it’s as if they are showcasing a symphony, with each movement clearly defining each aforementioned style. And even though all four members bring their A-game, I have to give the MVP award to bassist Nick Reyes on this track.
The following "Benediction," most certainly takes a different path. I instantly was reminded of the desert stoner rock and NOLA sludge metal scenes. The main riff could easily have been from a Kyuss album where the vocals take a Southern sultry Pantera or Crowbar approach. With an infectious groove and sweet solo, I'll give the trophy to guitarist Roland Leonard for this piece.
While both tracks are very impressive in their own right, my only complaint would be the fact that they’re completely unrelated. If I went in blind, I would’ve assumed each track was representing two different bands. Then again, I will admit that this could be seen as a showcase of the band’s broad versatility in the same way that Cave In or, to an extent, The Dillinger Escape Plan, would cycle through various musical styles throughout an album. In the context of a future full-fledged EP or album, hopefully they can take this large gap between musicalities and build a bridge between them for the sake of tracklisting flow.
In the end, Human Failure is an absolutely solid two-track release. Antagonist play to their strengths, yet also successfully explore new territory. I had already shined a light on members Nick Reyes and Roland Leonard respectively for each song, but I must mention the vocal force to be reckoned with Carlos Garcia as well as the backbone of the band and drumming machine Lond Garcia. If you want a quick taste of this group before fully exploring their catalog, this is a perfect place to start and will inevitably have you hungry for more of the band's ferocious and unabashedly unique heaviness.