Review Summary: When two songs deserve a review, you know the band is doing something right....
First of all, no, this is not a full-length album. It's a sadly short EP consisting of two tracks, both of which are set to appear on 'Prisoners', The Agonist's forthcoming 3rd album. While track by track reviews are generally tiresome, I don't believe it will do any harm here.
First up is 'The Lonely Solipsist', in my opinion the stronger of the two, which starts with a bang as Alissa growls like a demon over a blistering riff. The song progression is absolutely fantastic, as the track breaks into an interesting passage of choirs accompanied only by rolling drums before plunging headfirst back into the heaviness, with evil shrieks and technical arpeggio-riffing. Alissa's voice is absolutely fantastic, her growls could put most men in metal to shame and her cleans, while still not perfect, sound less forced and more listenable here. The chorus of this song is another of the track's highlights, deliciously catchy yet still heavy and intricate. The song closes with a final breakdown, in which the start riff is played over Alissa's relentless growls, growing barer and barer until the song comes to a sudden end. It's a fantastic way to end a brilliant song, more than worthy of inclusion on a full-length.
The second track, 'The Escape', follows in the same vein, though it is decidedly slower and less hectic. The song opens with the (great) chorus, before again descending into a fast metal section with growls and shrieks. As this evolves it begins to slowly build tension and energy, entering smoothly into a short but perfectly executed guitar solo at it's climax. The solo fades straight into another, more powerful reprise of the chorus, really displaying Alissa's cleans at their best and showing how her voice has evolved and improved. The track then continues in a similar direction as before, before once again ending rather abruptly.
The songs themselves are fantastic, but not flawless. The solo on 'The Escape' is so good one just wishes is was a touch longer, or that there was another on either of the tracks. The production on the album in interesting, it seems highly compressed, which enhances the punchiness of the guitar riffs but can also at times lead to difficulty in distinguishing different sounds in the mix. The final, biggest complaint, is of course that there aren't more songs on here, although of course this acts as a teaser of sorts for the new album, and tease it does. I will be picking up 'Prisoners' as soon as it is released, for if the rest of the tracks on there are as good as these, it will be a strong contender for my album of the year. Superb.