|Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore
Century Media Records
June 5th, 2012
Release length: 58:43
Unfortunately, Prisoners is far from the professional and unique experience of their last album. Instead, the band has taken a step back and basically resorted to rather generic Melodic Death Metal material with vocals that are too good to be involved with this recording. Obvious In Flames and Dark Tranquillity worship just slap you in the face, one right after the other, throwing back to their unimpressive debut Once Only Imagined, and with a rather poor audio quality to go along with it. While the instruments and vocals sound clear, the guitars and horribly muffled, the bass is really loud, and all of this leads me to frustration between which instrument is supposed to be doing what job. The drums sound great, though again that haze holds them back. The cymbals are loud but dull, the snares sound rich but drowned out, but the bass kicks are loud and nearly metallic with their clicks, working well for the recording despite the restrictions still in place.
“You’re Coming With Me” starts off well enough thanks to the acoustic performance that sounds great for the audio in the first twenty-two seconds, but as soon as the music kicks in you can clearly tell where everything went wrong: The hazy higher pitch in the production. The music still sounds pretty heavy and when you can pick up on the bass, which has been mastered to sound like a regular guitar, it can sound pretty good. The raspy screaming approach is as impressive as before, but a bit annoying due to the higher sound of the audio, leaving the clean singing not only an enjoyable performance, but a much welcomed moment away from the overall sound aside the heavier last minute. “The Escape” teases that the last minute will carry into it, but doesn’t, infact showing off more faults in the production. The screams sound tight and the singing is great, but the layering on them becomes really obvious, and the very slight delay with a horrible mixing job really makes them irritating at the same time when meant to be a little richer and powerful, instead coming off as two singers that are about as identical. Not a bad song, but had the audio issues been addressed, it would have been better despite the traditional composition.
“Predator & Prayer” starts with little girls chating “We hear you. We don’t care,” which carries into the first breakdown verse. Unfortunately, these make up most of the song, and much like the chanting at the start and end, they’re nothing at all spectacular. The only thing this track really has going for it amid the cluttered shifts in style with varied In Flames and Lamb of God mergers is the powerful vocal performance. “Ideomotor” has a good deal of solid material, but again nothing that really will make you bang your head along. However, what really stands out is the conclusion, which actually sounds more like a completely new instrumental track thanks to its slower pace and how different it sounds. “Dead Ocean” isn’t too bad either, but in the end just goes on way past the point of caring, causing it to have various shifts in the music to push it along and ultimately just leave you wanting to skip it about three and a half minutes in. Sadly, the closing track “Revenge of the Dadaists” is the same way, but this is thanks to an acoustic piece that has no transition whatsoever and sounds forced in at the end, as well as a spoken word introduction in French that doesn’t quite fit what the band has been doing on the previous eleven songs, but does work given the latter very passionate and enthusiastic vocal performance, and a decent transition into the Melodic Death Metal performance that can hit the listener pretty hard at times.
“Anxious Darwinians” is a little on the simpler side, but still manages to maintain some solid, passionate music throughout, sticking more to a mid-tempo pace aside some faster bass kicks to make it rather enjoyable. There are some deeper guttural-style vocals used as well, though they do appear earlier in the album, but the chorus will really grab listeners. Unfortunately, nothing on this song will really have you banging your head along aside the limited heavy charging riffs that hit around the half way point, as well as near the end. “Panophobia” takes things in a bit of an Arch Enemy direction after a rather empty start, showing a solid song with a rather infectious chorus. At two minutes and seventeen seconds, the flow just drops in an amateurish fashion, as if the band tried to do a decent transition through the drums and what could have been a bassdrop that doesn’t come through against the guitar solo that isn’t one. But, it honestly just sounds like they screwed the timing up horribly and didn’t bother to correct it. The conclusion is boring as well, even the few soft and distant vocal harmonizations can’t save it. There’s also “The Mass of the Earth,” which is a much faster assault that, if it weren’t for the higher pitched audio quality, would really tear your face clean off. The clean singing and mid-tempo pace actually ends up being more of an inconvenience, though never really hurts the song and it’s progression.
Unfortunately, Prisoners never has any material that actually stands out, and much of the release ends up sounding less unique to The Agonist than ever, a sad statement given how impressive their last album was. Aside many traditional compositions, the times it isn’t are greatly hurt by the audio. Not once will you feel the urge to bang your head along, though it may bob here and there for a minute or less in a few songs, and you’ll never really feel any energy or kick from the music thanks to it. In the end, this sounds like a cluttered, sterilized Melodic Death Metal album that holds very few enjoyable songs, as well as some potential masked by a horrible audio quality that quickly turns it into an endurance test that can make you honestly want to walk half way through, and punch everyone involved in approving the sound of this recording.
01. You’re Coming With Me – 5:36
02. The Escape – 4:09
03. Predator & Prayer – 5:05
04. Anxious Darwinians – 5:24
05. Panophobia – 3:54
06. Ideomotor – 8:07
07. Lonely Solipsist – 3:46
08. Dead Ocean – 6:20
09. The Mass of the Earth – 4:40
10. Everybody Wants You (dead) – 5:00
11. Revenge of the Dadaists – 6:42
|Overall Score: 3/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.