If you haven’t heard The Agonist yet, then you are really missing out on a wholly unique and beautifully brutal chapter in heavy metal. The long-awaited Prisoners really shows how far the band has come and how much work was put into the music – especially vocal arrangements. Alissa White-Gluz sounds like no one else and no one should dream of sounding like her. Add in the adventurous crew of guitars and drums and you have a machine to be reckoned with.
It’s almost too much to take in with very first song “You’re Coming with Me.” So many different things are going on at the same time within the five-and-a-half minute span that the initial reaction of a journalist is to say that The Agonist pulled out their ace in the first song and the rest of the album is just filler. I’m happy to say that the second half of that statement is false. As for it being the ace, I can probably stick with that. The soft and inviting acoustic guitar has a unique sound, but out of nowhere the music barges in with White-Gluz’s evil screams in tow that grab you right away. The progression on this song is insane and it would take too many words to describe it all. All of that and you haven’t even scratched the surface of the record yet.
Toning down the progression ever so slightly while turning up the vocals to eleven, “The Escape” is another instant heavy metal classic that puts 99% of all female-fronted bands to shame. The tonal quality that White-Gluz achieves here in the singing is unrivaled in quality among the best of the best. Being that she also (probably) scares children with her growls only solidifies her in the annals of metal history as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. The guitars play at their best, but this is more expertly observed within the transgression of the last ten seconds of the song. Skip to that right away, then go back through the song and really listen to the music. Only then will you truly appreciate the band as a whole.
When writing about a female-fronted band, unless it’s Arch Enemy, I find that other journalists, including myself, focus on the vocals alone. But when you have excellently crafted and tightly wound music like on Prisoners, you have to take a moment to appreciate the hard work that went into it. But when you counter that with the soul that Alissa White-Gluz puts into her singing and the pain and emotion she brings out into her screams, you have an album that’s worth a Grammy. This band deserves much more attention and respect than they currently receive.