Our top 10 The Agonist songs introduce us to a Canadian band famed for its use of both clean vocals and metal growls for its melodic death music. The band was formed in 2004, taking three years to release its debut album, Once Only Imagined. Initially, the album was intended to be a demo, but thanks to its awe-inspiring quality, it prompted the members to reinforce the lineup by recruiting drummer Simon McKay. The Agonist took a path many bands follow after their first album, demo, or EP, touring with other acts such as Overkill, God Forbid, Enslaved, Epica, The Faceless, and Visions of Atlantis. A second album, Lullabies for the Dormant Mind, followed shortly in 2009, having it debut at number one hundred and five on the Billboard Heatseekers Album charts.
Vocalist Alissa White-Gluz had become its major selling point since the band’s inception, thanks to her dazzling voice. Alissa was at a time regarded as one of the hottest chicks in the metal scene. In an interview, Alissa White-Gluz revealed that the band’s music had evolved to maturity, even though more melodic than heavier as many would have expected for a metal act. She also went on to reveal that The Agonist had their musical taste inspired by more classic acts such as Radiohead and Pantera.
After the release of the band’s third studio album, Prisoners, the band went on tour with other acts such as Alestorm, Kamelot, and Blackguard, with whom Alissa has done the song “The Sword.” Change is inevitable when it knocks, and for The Agonist, this came with the departure of legendary vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. While she cited the departure as an invitation to replace Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy, the band’s statement disputed her account, citing unprofessional conduct by the vocalist. Alissa was replaced by vocalist Vicky Psarakis who has barely disappointed since her debut with The Agonist. The Agonist has its music revolve around rights, the state of the world, and societal dilemmas. Here are the top 10 The Agonist songs sampled from the band’s six studio albums.
#10 – The Raven Eyes
Opening up our top 10 The Agonist songs is the hit “The Raven Eyes,” taken off the band’s studio album, Five. The song allowed the band to explore new sounds and emotions in the metal setting while still maintaining a unique stamp of their musical style. “The Raven Eyes” is completely acoustic, with the band choosing to go with clean vocals for the hit. Credit to the song’s producer Mike Plotnikoff who amazingly took the song’s theme using them to create a modern world storyline. A dark overtone helps capture the song’s painful emotions.
#9 – Follow the Crossed Line
“Follow the Crossed Line” is one of the electrifying releases by The Agonist. The song was featured in the band’s 2015 album Eye of Providence which ushered in new vocalist Vicky Psarakis. “Follow the Crossed Line” helped Vicky continue making vocals the centerpiece of The Agonist. In some way, Vicky Psarakis’ clean vocals sound way superior to former Alice White-Gluz, who is famed for his awe-inspiring growls. Nevertheless, this song is the band’s heaviest release in the album Eye of Providence.
#8 – In Vertigo
“In Vertigo” was released as the debut single from The Agonist’s album, Orphans. The song is an absolute smasher, with vocalist Vicky sticking to growled vocals over her clean operatic vocals. “In Vertigo” also features deft guitar work with a pensive middle section that offers the vocalist Vicky a chance to give us a taste of her clean vocals. In a nutshell, the song is a flickering and varied masterpiece snuggled in between sheer viciousness and melodic fragility.
#7 – My Witness, Your Victim
Yet another magnificent release from the band’s album Eye of Providence is the rip-roaring ballad “My Witness, Your Victim.” The song’s video was directed by bassist Chris Kells who has been instrumental in the success of other bands on video production when not touring with The Agonist. “My Witness, Your Victim” has its lyrics dive into the album’s theme.
#6 – Take Me to Church
While most of the songs by The Agonist might have been original releases, The Agonist has done covers to several popular songs. Our number six in the top 10 The Agonist songs introduce us to “Take Me to Church,” a song originally by the Irish singer-songwriter Hozier. The song uses religious terminologies to assert yourself, reclaiming your humanity through a simple act of love. While the cover by The Agonist might have been great, it fails to outdo Hozier’s original version was greater, having it nominated for a Grammy Award for the Song of the Year award.
#5 – Gates of Horn and Ivory
The term “Gates of Horn and Ivory” is used as a literary image to distinguish true dreams from false. The Agonist released as song this phrase’s title on the album, Eye of Providence. As expected, the song’s title and lyrics were inspired by the ancient Greek text The Odyssey. The band’s guitarist Danny Marino revealed that he had adapted the concept to things he saw in life.
#4 – Business Suits and Combat Boots
Listening to “Business Suits and Combat Boots” will make you realize how much The Agonist was literally centered around Alissa White-Gluz’s vocals. You’d almost feel like The Agonist lost such a gem, but the loss was a blessing in disguise in some way. It is Alissa’s screams and clean vocals in the chorus that make the song one of the best The Agonist songs. Credit to the song’s powerful lyrics, without which the song might not have impacted as it did.
#3 – Panophobia
“Panophobia” is one of the best The Agonist songs from the band’s album Prisoners. The song takes on a title that translates to the dread of an unknown threat or evil. “Panophobia” has its lyrics allude to a rationalized personal point of view which in some way feels like an account of panophobic thoughts. Alissa White-Gluz balances between clean vocals and growls, making her a unique and true queen in the metal scene.
#2 – …And Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep
“…And Their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep” is featured as the second hit on the band’s 2009 album, Lullabies for the Dormant Mind. The song displays some chaotic power blended with melodic beauty. Again, the dynamic singing of the current Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz with the help of awe-inspiring operatic backing vocals serves as the major selling point of this release. The song is also supported by a heavy breakdown to the end of the song, making it quite a memorable ballad. Surprisingly, this is the song that exemplifies The Agonist’s capability in releasing some seriously brutal metal hits.
#1- Thank You, Pain
Number one on our top 10 The Agonist songs list is the hit “Thank You, Pain.” The song was also released in the band’s album Lullabies for the Dormant Mind (2009). “Thank You, Pain” brings you pure power metal vibes even though the song’s structure in some way feels a little bit progressive. The chaotic and complex sound of the song serves as a reminder of how the entire band is skilled and not only a show for the band’s vocalist. However, we can barely forget the incredible depth and range of Alissa White-Gluz’s vocals in this song which adds some glamour to it.
Feature Photo: Ville-Pekka Vainio, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons