Released: 2007, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Montreal’s The Agonist certainly have a heavy cross to bear, what with the phenomenal success of similar-sounding labelmates, In This Moment. That band became Century Media Records’ press darlings and The Agonist sounds so damn close to them that it almost seems like a conflict of interest. Kind of like one canceling out the other. The Agonist’s debut, ONCE ONLY IMAGINED, is not bad by any stretch but it really is very generic metalcore whose only bright spot is the ferocious vocals of Alissa White-Gluz. Take White-Gluz out of the picture and this band and its music would be dropped like a hot potato. Her dynamic vocals run the gamut from angelic clean vocals to an acidic growl—think Kittie meets Otep—and it seems she is called on to display everything from one end to the next on each and every song. It just gets tiresome and without musical appeal to back it up, things get tired pretty quickly and forgettable even quicker.
“Rise and Fall” thunders out of the gates with a big, chuggy wall of guitars and is catchy as hell. White-Gluz shreds her vocal cords and shifts effortlessly into the soaring melodies required to get on to the video channels. But this same pattern runs through nearly every song. By the time you get to “Business Suits and Combat Boots,” you’re left checking if you’ve been listening to the same song on a loop. “Serendipity” mixes the formula up a little with some atmospheric passages and a gut-churning breakdown section, while some might get inspired by the Angela Gossow-meets-Sharon Den Adel vocal style on “Void of Sympathy” but it’s all too little too late by this point.
ONCE ONLY IMAGINED is too heavy on the formula—not to mention a hard-to-swallow doppelganger of In This Moment—to really be taken seriously at this point. Maybe it’s bad timing that The Agonist came out after In This Moment—or maybe that’s why they got signed in the first place—but the bottom line remains: this album is totally forgettable except for some moderately noteworthy vocals and they just aren’t enough to carry the band.
KILLER KUTS: “Rise and Fall,” “Business Suits and Combat Boots,” “Serendipity,” “Void of Sympathy”