October 13th, 2014
Release length: 32:50
Like a good deal of solo operations out there, United We Serve, Divided We Crawl sounds like a homemade DIY project as far as the production goes. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s something that still becomes glaringly obvious as soon as you slap the play button. The slightly dulled blunt edge of the audio quality doesn’t quite grab the listener the way you would hope, but thankfully does end up crisp enough to drive the point home, really picking up speed during some of the richer melodic cuts. “Completely Broken” uses the bass as much as possible to really fill in where the rather quiet fills from the drum kit don’t reach, and it helps greatly when some of the hooks find themselves crawling up and down the neck of the guitar. The end result is a catchy Amon Amarth-esque piece that feels natural to the project. “All Hallows Eve” has a nice creepy vibe throughout the whole performance as well thanks to the rich horrific guitar work and well executed brutality that ends with a faster paced ritualistic Incantation influence.
Thankfully it isn’t just the hook-driven cuts that manage to stand out either. There are a few abrasive performances that bring in some tighter musicianship that hide those aforementioned gaps a lot better in one way or another. “Human Cockroach” takes on a Goregrind persona similar to “Forged in Fire (Formed in Flame” by Exhumed, especially in the blasting fuelled chorus that nicely layers both the raspy vocal approach with the deep gutturals. There’s also “FYM”, which takes on more of a Blackened Death Metal approach that plays into the rawer sound of the recording well enough. The raspy barks are met with mixed Black Metal grooves and slightly melodic Death Metal riffs that have the potential to be a bit vile while channelling their inner Deicide.
But then you have the slower tracks like “Zombiism”. This opening track in particular ends up held back a bit by the bland audio, falling victim to the same issues that Vehemence suffered when it came to their 2004 full-length Helping the World to See. The slower pacing with riffs that were kind of complex for a Melodic Death Metal recording often came off a bit boring despite trying so hard to achieve a specific atmosphere. The performance itself here is not as bad, but the bass and drums just aren’t rich enough to really fill the space with the somewhat Progressive chords being played. Had there been a little more going on, perhaps a stronger rhythm guitar behind those very leads, it wouldn’t sound as if Agonous were recording it high on Ritalin.
For an independent one-man operation, United We Serve, Divided We Crawl isn’t entirely bad. The biggest downfall is that the audio most of the time really could have been better, not to mention a little more consistent. Some songs have better drums and less indecipherable vocals, while others have far better guitars, or are just rather dull all together. Really, it all seems to stem from what angle of Death Metal that Foul Phil tackles for that particular song, leaving much of it to be scattered across the board through the nineties to early two thousands. As far as the material itself goes, Agonous does present eight solid songs, each catchy in their own way, making this a decent recording worth at least sampling.
But if you’re still not sure this album is for you, Agonous made the entire United We Serve, Divided We Crawl album available for streaming through SoundCloud, which you can hear above. If you like what you hear, you can also download it through Dropbox courtesy the link posted by the band on their official Facebook timeline, which can be found here. United We Serve, Divided We Crawl has also apparently been picked up for release through Torn Flesh Records .
01. Zombiism – 5:16
02. Completely Broken – 5:23
03. FYM – 3:33
04. Human Cockroach – 3:27
05. Frightening Reality – 4:24
06. All Hallows Eve – 3:05
07. Mind Control – 3:24
08. The Beast Within – 4:19
|Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10