Canadian Metal band The Agonist is back with their third release, "Prisoners". This album marks a great leap forward in maturity for the band - weaving notes of progressive Metal, Metalcore and Black Metal into one intricate work. Opening up with the powerful "You're Coming With Me," "Prisoners" gives a promise that it will be heavy throughout and carrying poignant messages. The song begins with lulling acoustic guitar that segways into much heavier, melodic riff work by Danny Marino. In the same instance, the song shows one of the weaknesses of the entire album: the overly melodic choruses become something completely generic to Metalcore. "Anxious Darwinians" starts off with a sound that is strikingly similar to music from Nightwish's "Poet And The Pendulum". Generic? Borderline, yes.
There is nothing at all wrong with a song that has meaning - most do. Every song on "Prisoners" is loaded down with very poignant, and often ire-raising subjects: including environmentalism. "Predator And Prayer" begins with an eerie chant and goes straight into their normal heavy style; it's the lyrics that stick out and can be slightly nerve-wracking. There is spoken word noting how they feel God is a creation of man and that they will not be a slave to an invention. The sound itself is pretentious, an attempt at lofting the band above the heads of its listeners.
The album isn't very easy to connect with, and despite all of the amazing work done by each of the members, it is overall a hard listen. With such a long album consisting of very touchy subjects throughout, it is easy to forget you are actually listening to it until something drastic happens. All in all this is a strong work that showcases the band's talent. It just isn't a perfectly clean album through and through.