Replacing a singer is one of the toughest things to do in music. Whether it’s due to your singer passing away (Suicide Silence, AC/DC) or his or her resignation (Killswitch Engage), you learn a lot about your band when you have to find a new voice. This is the situation The Agonist faced after powerhouse vocalist Alissa White-Gluz was drafted into Arch Enemy. Some bands may have just packed it up and called it a day, but The Agonistt did not. Instead, they plucked Vicky Psarakis from YouTube vocal-cover hell and soldiered on, crafting a new album, Eye of Providence, and letting the young gun prove herself.
I have to admit, when I heard White-Gluz left the band, I was worried that whoever they recruited wouldn’t be able to hang. I mean, you’re following a formidable vocalist whether she sings or screams. Much to my delight, Ms. Psarakis has no problem jumping in and delivering over the 13 songs. Album standouts “Danse Macabre” and “Disconnect Me” prove that the band has not lost a step in their melo-death niche and might even be stronger with Psarakis than White-Gluz.
That said, a lot of what sounds off about this record falls on Psarakis as well. The Agonist temper their usual sound in favor of something more straightforward and less death-y, which, when it works (“As Above, So Below”), is absolutely stunning. For most of the record, Psarakis’ singing feels restrained, and she sounds timid behind the mic. Maybe that’s just the way she naturally sings … I don’t know. Now, not all the songs feel that way. Like I said before, “Danse Macabre” lets her showcase exactly how far she can push herself, and it’s one of the handful of songs that recalls older The Agonist material. But a lot of this new record feels … safe. It’s as if they took it easy and allowed their new singer to get her feet wet and get accustomed to the band. ThHis isn’t a bad thing really, but I hope they take more risks next time out and truly blow us away. As good as the material is on Eye of Providence, it just needs a little more oomph to make it stand out.
“Eye of Providence” will be released on February 24th via Century Media.
Rating: 4/5 Stars