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Agonist, The: Once Only Imagined

Once Only Imagined is the debut album from Montreal's The Agonist, newly signed to Century Media Records. This politically charged release features the talents of Alissa White-Gluz, who unleashes plenty of evil Arch Enemy-meets-metalcore styled growling vocals as well as soothing clean passages that will remind you of Evanescance. She's extremely nice to look at, and she can peel the paint just like Angela Gossow with her voice when she wants to. Musically, the rest of the band creates plenty of aggressive bombast throughout Only Once Imagined, led by guitarist Danny Marino, whose cannon like riffs propel songs like "Take A Bow", "Trophy Kill", and "Rise and Fall" to lofty metal heights. Alissa's mix of vocal styles on "Business Suits and Combat Boots" is pretty damn impressive, but in the end it's her soaring melodic vocals on "Void of Sympathy" that stand out the most. As effective as her growls are, it's her clean voice that really shines througout this CD, and I'm wondering if the band will utilize more of that style in the future. Also, it's going to be interesting to see how she fluctuates between the two on the band's US tour this year, as they are set to go out with such acts as Sonata Arctica, Epica, Overkill, Enslaved, and Visions of Atlantis.

Track Listing
1) Synopsis
2) Rise and Fall
3) Born Dead, Buried Alive
4) Take A Bow
5) Trophy Kill
6) Business Suits and Combat Boots
7) Serendipity
8) Memento Mori
9) Void of Sympathy
10) Chiaroscuro
11) Forget Tomorrow

Added: January 28th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band's My Space Page
Hits: 3741
Language: english

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Agonist, The: Once Only Imagined
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-01-28 13:03:11
My Score:

When the listener first puts on the Century Media Records debut release from Montreal's The Agonist and realizes that this is yet another Melodic Metalcore band that's fronted by a beautiful female vocalist they might jump the gun on them and mumble "oh no not again". It would be a valid thought had the group fallen into the same old, same old mold which they very fortunately do not manage to do on the album. Right off the bat we find the lovely Alissa White-Gluz handling almost a dual personality in terms of her vocal powers all across the recording and at times she is a raging inferno that calls to mind Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy) and Nergal (Behemoth) while at others has one of the most melodic and pleasing clean voices that I have heard in awhile. Hopefully she doesn't mind the referencing and who could actually complain about being likened to two of the most imposing vocal identities in modern Metal today. These diverse vocals on top of some really aggressive music seems to work out well and the band ends up delivering an intense album that not only makes sure to kick your ass but also aims to make you a little more socially aware as a result. Yes there is some level of political and socio-economic awareness being sung about in the songs and I found it added a little more depth to them as a band. This is not go out and drink or have yourself a party music but instead something far more focused and directed. I found that my immediate favorites ran with "Business Suits And Combat Boots", which covers the overall bureaucracy of maintaining ones identity while trying to survive in the corporate atmosphere and "Memento Mori", a tune that deals with the heavy subject of physical and sexual abuse. Those who consider themselves activists for any particular cause like these seem to have a strong ally in the singer who doesn't appear afraid to use her musical voice and band to address the things that matter to her as a person. With so many growler vocalists on the scene nowadays I liked how Alissa used her clean style as much as her growls on the album and based on songs like "Void Of Sympathy", she shows you just how good her cleaner style is and how powerful her vocal chords are. If the band ever chooses to drop the "core" from their sound they can clearly become a Melodic Metal force to be dealt with very easily. They already have a video for "Business Suits And Combat Boots" and its their first and it was filmed by acclaimed director Dave Brodsky. It merits watching and is currently on the bands website for your enjoyment.

The band is also comprised of Danny Marino, nephew of the legendary Frank Marino from Mahogany Rush, on guitar. He has an aggressive and yet at the same time melodic style of playing and offers up some truly interesting riffs. There is tastiness to his playing and he switches gears a lot around the recording. Bass is handled by Chris Kells who sounds like an adept player himself and he also helps out with some backing growls in live show as I have observed. The bands drummer is Simon McKay, but the recorded work was done by Derek Nadon. Having witnessed the bands onslaught on several occasions I can say that McKay does what the recording delivers with no issue and presents a lot of cool off time feels with the double kicks. The album is not one to be dismissed and instead paid a little more attention to and admired because of the bands proud stance on their causes. While no one likes to be lectured to I didn't find this to be the case with The Agonist and instead took it as good Metal with a social conscious. Instead of being preachy they take the bull by the horns and say "listen up". There seems to be a bright future ahead for The Agonist who might even convince people to reflect more about their own beliefs or at least allow themselves to be a little more aware based on their musical efforts. In the end it's all about getting your message across and I think they are off to a promising start.

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