Musical evolution is something amazing to witness; to see a band transform from crawling larvae into a fire-breathing moth is something amazing. With Prisoners, The Agonist have not only managed to put out a great record, but snap a photograph of their personal evolution, not just as a band, but as individual artists.
Right off the bat, there is something amazing about Prisoners, “You’re Coming With Me” is just the first blow. Regardless of how you knew The Agonist before, Prisoners takes it to a whole new level. This is truly a metamorphosis from a fully talented progressive metalcore band into a more matured progressive sound that is 100% confident with itself. After a brief acoustic intro akin to the ones found on Slaughter of the Soul, the song kicks into an aural attack closest to an edgy black metal sound like early Mayhem . Of course, it quickly changes, but it’s just a glimpse of what the band can do as a whole. However, it immediately gives you a notice that the band borrows more influences this time from European black/death metal acts on this LP, and the results are more than anyone could’ve hoped for. Whatever genre they touch, they turn to gold. It’s like a musical Midas touch. There are several parts of the album where the band just goes off on a jam session, like the entire piece at the end of “Ideomotor”; it’s an entire 3 minutes of pure metal jamming. In the long run, The Agonist have proven themselves to be “a band’s” band, anybody that’s touched an instrument will truly appreciate the dedication and hard work on this album.
I don’t consider myself fan of metalcore by any means. Most of the time I can barely stomach it; the constant copying of In Flames, At the Gates, Carcass every viable second they can in between their overuse of breakdowns just drives me mental. And while The Agonist has always been several steps beyond all of that, the clear influences of the NWOAHM could clearly be heard as it permeated their sound; kind of like little droplets of ink in a cup of waterr. It’s natural for a band to sound more the bands that influenced them on their first albums, all bands have done it, Metallica, Slayer, Pantera. Then their sound begins to evolve; bands develop their unique flavourings and their style morphs into one of their own. The steady progression of The Agonist‘s sound is only made insanely stark when you go back and listen to Once Only Imagined, which sounds sloppy and amateurish when compared to the like of Prisoners. Mark my words, this is a landmark album for the band; I know this simply because of the fact that I was completely able to ignore my prejudice and even enjoy the metalcore influences that Prisoners had to offer. In a similar fashion, not everyone likes the long ass solos in Master of Puppets, but there is no denying the importance of that album as far as Metallica‘s career goes.
Despite singer Alissa White-Gluz saying that it’s a slow album in her opinion, it is indeed the opposite; Prisoners is an instant headlock that holds until the very end and proves to be more of a solid musical endeavor than any of their previous entries. This is a definite buy for metal fans in 2012.[signoff predefined=”Signoff 1″][/signoff]