Live at The House of Blues
Hollywood, CA 09/15/2011
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
This was the second time for me seeing the female fronted powerhouse known as The Agonist. While the last time I saw them I was predominantly a novice to their sound and songs, this time I came well prepared, having listened to all their material to date.
I have to say that their debut album, "Once Only Imagined" quickly became one of my favorite albums after picking it up at the last show. Songs like "Rise and Fall" and "Take a Bow" are premiere metal anthems for me.
Their follow up album, "Lullabys for a Dormant Mind", while being the same intense delivery of harsh female vocals mixed with melodic vocal interludes, was not quite as involving for me.
The album shows some expermentation on Alissa's part in her harsh vocals but some of her originality on the first album was minimized in what comes across as a more standardized death metal growls at points than her more unique female growl that I had become accustomed to.
That being said there are some excellent stand out tracks like "Thank You Pain", "Martyr Art", and "Waiting Out The Winter" which are very much in league with the epic and unique songs off their debut that set their own bar so high.
On this tour they only did one song off of "Once Only Imagined", which was "Business Suits and Combat Boots". This was my favorite song from the material I knew about but the stand out songs of the night were definitely their two new songs taken from their upcoming album.
"Lonely Solipist" and "The Escape" both have all the qualities I have come to love in The Agonist and were very moving live. I bought the mini-EP of these two songs at the show and they proved to be equally awesome on disc.
I hope their third album maintains this mentality through out, because if it does, it will be their best to date. The EP is more of a single with only two songs on it, but as a teaser for the album it is ok to pitch $5 for it. I love supporting bands and the cover art is quite striking, so it was worth picking up.
Alissa looked better than ever with her long locks bleached blonde instead of the blues and reds I have seen her sport in the past. She came out with a steam punk styled top hat and an intricate corset on.
She quickly lost the hat so she could whip her hair around as she moved about the stage. She is an arresting performer with her good looks, intense vocal delivery, animated story telling stances, and she still catches me off guard with the ability to switch from screams and growls to flawlessly pitched melodic peices.
Overall, this was a better show than last time and that is saying something as the previous experience was excellent. The new material was a great addition and they had a lot more stage space to move about in which gave her the freedom to perform to the crowd.
The House of Blues has excellent sound and the entire ensemble sounded tight and refined while still providing a head-banging blast of metal.
As with all opening acts, the set time is way too short and they only got six songs off before it was time to close with "Thank You Pain". I always wish they played "Rise and Fall" live but understand they like to focus on the newest material in their repertoire.
All in all, I still rank The Agonist as one of the hottest female fronted metal tickets out there.
I think it is awesome that they keep touring with other great bands and not only increase their exposure but influence and get influenced by other consumate metal acts of an equally unique nature as themselves.
As an unexpected bonus, it was really cool to see Alissa come out for the final encore song of Kamelot and provide both the melodic female vocals on "March of Mephisto" but also handled the harsh growls of the title character in the song as well. It would be fantastic to see her do more of this type of guest vocal work for other bands, as she added a serious punch to the finale for the headliner.
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