Album Reviews, Artists / Bands, Metal / Hard Rock — September 17, 2012 at 9:11 am

The Agonist – Prisoners


Artist Name: The Agonist
Title Name: Prisoners
Label: Century Media
Reviewed by: Fabio Marraccini


Canada is a country with an absolutely remarkable history in heavy music. From legendary proggers Rush and Voivod, all the way down to speed metal legends such as Razor, Exciter, Annihilator and Anvil, Canadian bands are always distinct and remarkable. The Agonist are a band that certainly lives up to those high standards. While their music is centred on metalcore, melodic death metal and deathcore – genres played extensively over the past 15 years, and very much saturated in many cases – they sound unique.

For starters, they also blend vocal styles that made gothic metal famous, namely brutal growls alternated with beautiful female singing. Not only that, instead of using two singers to build what became known as “the beauty and the beast” approach, they employ only one! Alissa White-Gluz is beauty and beast all-in-one, alternating between grunts that would make Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy fame proud, and lines that would fit a Nightwish or even Evanescence album. It is true that bass man Chris Kells is also listed as back vocalist and is distinctively heard sometimes, but that doesn’t make their achievement any less impressive. Danny Marino on guitars, Pascal Jobin on guitars, and Simon McKay on drums complete the team.

Reaching now the third full-length, their challenge is topping up the seminal sophomore effort Lullabies for the Dormant Mind, breakthrough effort that put them on the map for good. And Prisoners has certainly enough material to fill such big shoes. The former had more diversified influences, while this one seems to pick a more channelled direction. But it carries all their flagships: the aforementioned vocal changes, mathematically challenging tempo changes, exciting riffs and beautiful melodies.

“You’re coming with Me” starts with an acoustic intro and quickly jumps into metalcore brutality. “The Escape” alternates vocals so madly that you will think you’ve mixed Emperor with After Forever by accident and gave it a Canadian twist… The two following songs break down the speed a little bit, while “Panophobia” shifts gears again, with ‘80s sounding metal riffs and furiously angry guitar solos. “Ideomotor” is too complex to be even described with words. Starts heavy and slows, then explodes into speedy beats peppered by the fighting vocal lines, then dives into more traditional metal solos, a slower almost ballad-like passage, and then back to power metal sounding scales – wow!

From the last few songs, “Revenge of the Dadaists” is the clear standout. French-spoken intro, ravishing heavy fury following, then diving into an acoustic segment full of beautiful melodies, that progressively grows into a heavy outro for the song and for this magnificent album.

If this was a “band to watch” just a few years ago, it is now certainly a well established act, with a brilliant future ahead, given their high level of musicianship, creativity and variety.





THE AGONIST – ‘Prisoners’ Album Sampler



The Agonist – Prisoners – iTunes: