Soulless

Agony's Lament

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What is underground today may or may not enjoy mass appeal tomorrow. Gangsta rap and grunge started out with cult followings but ended up becoming extremely lucrative; N.W.A and Nirvana were called "uncommercial" at one time but went on to sell millions of albums. Death metal, on the other hand, has pretty much remained underground. Some death metallers have entered the gold/platinum realm -- Slayer, most notably -- but for the most part, death metal has stayed a cult phenomenon. Most death metal bands cater to a core audience of true believers; they don't care if people outside of the death metal/black metal world comprehend what they're doing. And that outlook permeates Agony's Lament, a CD that is unlikely to win over anyone who hasn't understood death metal in the past. Soulless' harsh, brutally intense material is death metal with a strong thrash influence; they're extreme and left-of-center, although not quite as extreme as Cannibal Corpse or Carcass. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake to think of Agony's Lament as a disc that's going to convert someone who has been saying, "I just don't understand death metal" -- from Jim Lippucci's demonic vocal style to the merciless two-guitar attack of Jim Corrick and Wayne Richards, Agony's Lament is aimed at the kids who are already in the mosh pit. This Cleveland outfit doesn't offer a lot of variety; after the first few tunes, the listener has pretty much heard it all. And they aren't terribly distinctive; countless other bands have done this type of thing before. Nonetheless, the competent Agony's Lament isn't without its pleasures if one has a taste for this type of sensory assault.

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