Review Summary: As proggy death/thrash goes, this is one relative unknown that can dish out some punishment.
Agressor's second album is one of the early highlights of progressive death metal. Before Cynic more or less laid down the blueprint for following acts to follow with their fusion influences and clean vocals, other early forays in the genre generally had different fundamental components. Pestilence had rather more traditional "progressive metal influences" with melodic synths invading tracks like Twisted Truth, but here Agressor opts for an approach comparable to the existing progressive thrash bands and other early death metal groups like Nocturnus.
opens the album up with one of the more straightforward directions of any of the tracks present. The extremely dry production nevertheless gives reasonable weight to the riffs, which soon spiral into wild freakout runs that lead it towards feeling out of control. The Fortress
utilizes some of the robotized vocals that would later be popularized by Cynic, but generally sticks to a death/thrash template with additional progressive elements in the riffs. Where things really open up is with Positronic Showering
which opens with unusual time signatures that lead to an intensely off kilter feeling largely unlike the standard death metal of the rest of the track. Album highlights Antediluvian
and The Crypt
act in similar vain, with the relentless thrash riffs generally incorporating unorthodox scale runs and tonality rather than great deals of melody or synths.
The prime exception to the musical rule elsewhere on the album is the closer Future Past/Eldest Things
, which opens with a lengthy folk intro before quickly transitioning into by far the most stately and melodic song of the album, rarely clocking into the full tilt blastbeats and lightning fast tremolo picking of the other tracks. Whilst not really progressive in the same sense of the other tracks, it makes for an excellent and epic closer.
Whilst usually not quite neatly arranged enough to be a true death metal must-listen, Towards Beyond is jam picked with great riffs with enough in the way of bizarre transitions and tonality to stay fresh throughout its run. Not quite as progressive as the albums that followed from other bands, it manages to pack the frantic intensity of Hellwitch into a meatier package with enough spice to stay enjoyable throughout.