Prague, Czech Republic, might not be the place we expect to find some innovative heavy rock, but it has a long, deep history and THE AGONY. The band consists of four ladies, fronted by Nikola “Niky” Kandoussi (vocals/guitar), and they are making waves. Pounding the bass is Katie Skatie, on lead axe is Terka Psencikova and loud and proud on the skins is Martina “Kajda” Balcarova. The band members are heavily influenced by well known musical groups such as METALLICA, GIRLSCHOOL, L7, JEFF BECK and even TOTO.
In 2013, they published their first works on the EP Loud and Furious. When I heard it the first time, I was impressed, and even though the songs were not very technical, the passion was definitely there. Raw and brutal. Their first full LP was titled Dirty and Dangerous in 2015. Everyone I talked to loved it. I listened to it for two straight weeks when it came out. That LP featured older, redone songs and several new ones. 689 (self-produced along with Sono Records’ Pavel Bohaty) features all new material and shows the collective talent of this band, so c’mon let’s go hit and run through these ten incredible tracks.
Heading the disc is “Midnight Destruction”. It’s an excellent starting place, an in your face tune with a nice synchronized bass and drum lick by Skatie and Balcarova, respectively. If you are a fan, one thing you will notice right away is the great harmony now incorporated on the album. “Loverboy (Psycho)” slinks in the door featuring the manipulative Casanova. He fools only himself with old tricks to get what he wants, but someone’s got his Ace and dealing with fake people is a pain.
“Shoot” explodes, one of the heaviest tracks on the album. A rocking song where the subject struggles with the dark thoughts one has dealing with other’s betrayal on a personal level. The lyrics are deep and abstract enough to leave you with a sick feeling in your stomach. Just a brilliantly written piece. It could very well be THE song on the album. “How Do You Want Me?” slows the pace with some very tasty guitar work by Psecikova. She closely follows an ALICE IN CHAINS run that is very well done. The subject struggles with the deep desire for acceptance and is willing to sell their soul to get that approval. Next is a remake from an earlier released single “It Ain’t Over”. I am very happy they redid this tune. It has METALLICA overtones and is about the obsession to control others.
“Radio Silence” is up next, one of the remakes that I really like. Not only are the lyrics so much better, lead guitar work by Psencikova is much more polished than the original. Another tune about manipulation, but this time through the method of silence. The only problem with silence as a weapon is generally the harm is inward. “Secrets” reveals the intense vocal work Kandoussi has done since the last album. Sort of the opposite from the previous track, it involves keeping quiet for the fear of possible consequences. Probably THE most powerful song is “Video Arcade”. With musical debauchery and lustful intent, we take a journey into the dark and dank world of Prague sleaze and immorality hidden in the quiet sexual underground.
Although the subject matter is tough, it’s portrayed brilliantly. It’s a powerful testament of the mysterious draw of dark sexual intrigue. After absorbing this song, one doesn’t just “listen” to it, I felt like I needed to take a shower to remove the scum. Artistically, I think it’s the best on the album. It’s probably not by chance that the next track is “Prague City”. Written by Katie Skatie, we get a hard rocking, mutual thunderous pounding by the band and an introduction of some metal kazoo. I loved it. “The cops can kiss your ass in the City of Prague”. All rainbows and unicorns baby.
Finishing up is “Switch”. I listened to this track quite a lot. Several meanings came to mind: heavy bondage and S&M, an addictive drug speaking to its victim and taking over their life or the willing surrender to someone else for an emotional fix. “Tell me how much you can bear, Now the red line’s getting near, Beg for more and I’ll play fair, My ecstacy in your screams”. Deep shit for sure. Nicely written. This album is very hard hitting, dealing with many tough negative emotions we all learn to handle or not. We all come to realize that positive actions resolve these negative feelings.
Only together four years,THE AGONY have excelled in their songwriting, not only as complex lyricists, but musically as well. They are gaining fans around the world and getting airplay on radio and web radio stations. I’ve become personal friends with them over the years and completely support what they do.
STANDOUT TRACKS:ALL OF THEM (but “Midnight Destruction”, “Shoot”; “Prague City”, and “Video Arcade” are my favorite
RATING: 10/10 (of course)
-MARK “\M/ETAL \M/ESSIAH” EHRLICH