Released: 2008, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
It is no secret that metalcore passed its shelf life at least two years ago, yet, for whatever reason, new bands keep releasing new albums that clutch hungrily at even a shred of the passion and originality that the original wave of bands first unleashed six or seven years ago. The latest outfit grasping for consumer’s hard-earned dollars is Southern California’s Antagonist, a thoroughly generic and forgettable band whose sound basically encapsulates Killswitch Engage and Deftones rolled into one. There are loads of flashy guitar runs reminiscent of bands like All That Remains and The Human Abstract but what comes out in the wash is that every song on EXIST sounds like another band. In other words, Antagonist lacks any identity whatsoever which causes the record to get lost in a murky sea of bands who have come and gone.
Right off the bat, problems arise. Opening track “Bomb Shelter” sounds like Killswitch Engage. The title track sounds like As I Lay Dying. “So Let It Rain” sounds like All That Remains. An unfortunate pattern forms quickly, in that, each song on EXIST makes the listener think of a different (and better) band. Stylistically, the metalcore elements are all in place—slick guitar passages, dual lead harmonies, thunderous breakdowns, etc.—but certain songs lean towards deathcore (“Immaculate Misconception”) and even thrash (“Angels”) with the quasi-ballad “Failure On Repeat” incorporating the clean/harsh vocal dynamic. A cynic would think that Antagonist sat down and tried to write songs that brought in all the current metal trends, tossing them all against the wall and hoping something would stick.
Considering Antagonist has four self-released EPs and another full-length under its belt prior to releasing EXIST, one would think they would have worked out the kinks and found their own niche but such is not the case. Even the freakin’ cover art looks almost identical to All That Remains’ latest record, OVERCOME, which was released just two weeks earlier! Come on, guys! EXIST sounds like an album of songs written by a band making one final leap at the golden ring. Landing a deal with Prosthetic Records after all this time (the band has reportedly been in existence for over ten years) may be one last kick at the cat but if EXIST is the best these guys can come up with, their days are surely numbered.
KILLER KUTS: “Marana,” “Failure On Repeat,” “Immaculate Misconception”