The Agonist is a classy Canadian extreme metal band from Montreal, Quebec, formed in 2004. The current line up consists of guitarists Danny Marino and Pascal (Paco) Jobin, bassist Chris Kells, drummer Simon Mckay, and vocalist Vicky Psarakis, who joined in March 2014 following the departure of vocalist and founding member Alissa White-Gluz to Arch Enemy. Both Psarakis and White-Gluz use growled and clean vocals. Originally known as The Tempest, the band adopted their current moniker upon their signing to Century Media in 2007. To date, the Agonist have released five studio albums; the last before Five, Eye of Providence, was released in February 2015.
I was excited to hear this release, pestering The Meister for a copy for weeks, since I had heard the single “The Moment“, which kicks off the album in fine old style. The mixture of clean and classic growling vocals may be somewhat cliched with some other metalcore bands, but there are few finer vocalists than Vicky Psarakis in rock today. She brings an element of anger, mixed with deep melancholy and the single brings these front and center. “The Moment” grabs your attention like an asteroid hurtling towards your house.
“The Chain” busts out with more revolutionary angst and the song takes on a Blind Guardian feel with lyrics being spat out about revolution and taking hold of the chains of oppression. A skittering guitar breakdown then goes full on Helloween, with a nod or many to some serious Classical music appreciation.
“The Anchor and the Sail” opens with a Power Metal vibe (I vote we call them Powercore) and then turns full speed into thrash growls. The song then reaches further into dark water and is topped off by some Steve Vai inspired soloing. Intense, as only these musos can be.
“The Game” piles on angry petrol to the bonfire of this album. The chorus deftly layers on melodies and the growls seem somewhat unnecessary and take away power at this point…Only a slight criticism, meant in a constructive way!
“The Hunt” floats in on more elegant singing and a bucketful of soul. Again, this song is a vocal tour de force. Ultimately, this record is dominated by the fantastic vocals and storming lead guitar. The emotion swells and boils with frustration, anger and pathos.
“The Man Who Fell To Earth” gives the band the ability to grind and this mid paced tune again gives melancholia a great name. Soothing then beating the listener, the song is also heavily passionate and erotic in its exotic structure…oh my!
“The Ocean” once again channels Soul music through the prism of metal. The song is vital and urgent but is the most accessible of the album. Fantastic writing.
Other album highlights include more powerful soul with “The Raven Eyes“.
Overall, the whole album rips and is elegant and intelligent with enough originality to make the bonus cover of “Take Me To The Church” superfluous, even if it is a favorite of mine.
Believe the hype! These guys are the real deal, producing one of the best albums of 2016…you heard it here first!
2. “The Chain”
3. “The Anchor and the Sail”
4. “The Game”
5. “The Ocean”
6. “The Hunt”
7. “The Raven Eyes”
8. “The Wake”
9. “The Resurrection”
10. “The Villain”
11. “The Pursuit of Emptiness”
12. “The Man Who Fell to Earth”
13. “The Trial”
14. “Take Me to Church” (Hozier cover) (Bonus Edition Only)