Lullabies for the Dormant Mind is the sophomore release from Century Media metalcore band The Agonist. It’s quite clear from their sound that they hail from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The album was released February 23 in Europe and March 10 in North America by Century Media Records.
Given that their vocalist, Alyssa White-Gluz was a contestant on Canadian Idol (like American Idol for Canada, for those who don’t get it), this band has some pretty intense screams and subject matter – on this release particularly. After Only Once Imagined I did not have very high hopes for this band. They were boring and unoriginal metalcore and had very one-dimensional vocals. The only appeal was that the singer was a chick, and a hot one at that (still the only reason I think Lacuna Coil has fans). As you can imagine, a fiery personality such as Alyssa would want to avoid this, and make sure that people know she has chops. She made herself quite clear throughout Lullabies for the Dormant Mind, and brought more of an arsenal than last time. Many of the songs are more progressive death metal, and black metal sounding than the tired metalcore sound they had last time. This is not, however, to say that the approach they have taken has changed all that much. It is still quite clearly the same band.
The first, and most noticeable difference is aforementioned style change, but is not the most noteworthy. The biggest turn off from The Agonist for me was the lack of good songwriting. They had a pleasing sound, and were decent to listen to, but far too predictable. They seemed to have thrown out whatever formula they had been using, and simply went for it this time around.
While not groundbreaking, Lullabies for the Dormant Mind is at the very least fresh and interesting. The biggest barrier for this band, however, seems to be a lack of creativity in the guitar section, as well as the constant over-production. There are so many unnecessary string arrangements laid over the tracks, the most glaringly obvious being in the second track of the album, “…and Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep”. Ironically enough, this is the song that most exemplifies how the band really can come together and make some seriously brutal metal (each half of the song is almost entirely different from the other).
The other notable point of the album that I cannot forego mentioning is the a cappella version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. There is obviously a fair amount of studio magic on the track, and I am not very sure how much of it that Alyssa actually sang, but it came out perfectly. All the harmonies were spot-on, and it sits in just the right spot on the album. Whomever made the call to allow this on the album made a great one.
Given the fact that this is their sophomore release, it’s a good (but not great) one. They have avoided their sophomore slump, and have made great strides toward writing a seriously awesome metal album. If they continue to evolve and refine their sound, they will be unstoppable in a couple years.
Track picks: “..and Their Eulogies Sing Me to Sleep” and “When the Bough Breaks”
Overall Score: 7/10 devil horns
As a side note, the guys over in Derelict opened for The Agonist on the first show of their album debut tour, which would have bean a great show.