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The Agonist: Prisoners

I get the impression that Prisoners is one of those albums that is not only billed as anxiously awaited, but is actually something that real people are looking forward to hearing. For those of you who don't know them, The Agonist is an aggressive heavy metal band out of Montreal, Quebec. Although they've only been on the scene since about 2007, they already have two albums under their belts and have been touring extensively throughout their career. In fact, they were here in my town (Salt Lake City, UT) just a few weeks ago sharing the bill with Kittie. I would have enjoyed seeing them, but was, unfortunately, unable to attend.

Prisoners is a heavy, intense, album that will surely please fans of The Agonist. They aren't necessarily pushing their sound, but the tracks are always heavy, sometimes melodic, frequently powerful, and consistently entertaining. There is no sense of falling away from the quality of earlier work, neither is there a paucity of songwriting ability. Having said that, I should point out that I preferred the tracks in which Alissa White-Gluz used her cleaner vocal style. She has a nice voice, one that should be able to gain the attention of more and more fans. Her harsher vocals are properly deep, raspy, threatening even, but there just isn't much to explore musically beyond being deep and guttural. To my ears, the harsh vocals of someone like Angela Gossow do a little more to establish a band's signature sound. The Agonist, in my opinion, should alternate less often between the harsh and the clean vocal style and discover new ways of highlighting White-Gluz's melodic style.

Danny Marino's guitar playing on this album is very strong. I loved the way he brought a real, riff-centered feel to tracks like "Dead Ocean," but also spices up his parts with scale patterns. On the opening and closing tracks he plays in a mild, acoustic, style that suggests an ability to be sensitive, something this band is probably avoiding just yet. Nevertheless, Marino has the chops to take these guys in new directions. Be sure to check out "Revenge of the Dadaists" for a good example of his cleaner guitar playing. No, he isn't breaking new ground here, but he sounds great. Marino, like Alissa White-Gluz, is a performer who should be watched closely as his talent increases and develops.

For those of you who are discovering this band for the first time, I recommend that you listen to this album all the way through before passing judgment. The first track, in my view, comes across so powerfully that you need to hear the rest of the album to appreciate the various sounds and themes The Agonist explores. I thought the best tracks were in the middle of the album, especially "Panophobia," and "Ideomotor." Make sure that you check out the last track, "Revenge of the Dadaists," especially for its opening lines, spoken in French, delivered in the lovely intonations of Quebecois French. (I used to live in Montreal). Highly recommended.

Track Listing:
1. You're Coming With Me
2. The Escape
3. Predator and Prayer
4. Anxious Darwinians
5. Panophobia
6. Ideomotor
7. Lonely Solipsist
8. Dead Ocean
9. The Mass of the Earth
10. Everybody Wants You (Dead)
11. Revenge of the Dadaists

Added: May 26th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Myspace Page
Hits: 2738
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

The Agonist: Prisoners
Posted by metalmaster1500 on 2012-06-05 18:33:02
My Score:

This was a great review! I too unfortunately missed The Agonist when they came through AZ back in September. I really enjoyed the video for "Ideomotor" off of this album and thought you might too! Also, for anyone who wants to purchase the album, it's available here !

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