Music / The Agonist
The current line-up: From left to right: Danny, Paco, Vicky, Chris, Simon.

Does history guide you, or do you set out to change it?
Business Suits and Combat Boots

The Agonist (formerly known as The Tempest) is a Canadian Melodic Death Metal/metalcore band from Montreal, characterised by topical lyrics, complex guitar work and a female lead who can sing (well) in both clean and growling vocals.

Their lyrics often consider themes such as animal rights, social injustice and other contemporary issues. This fits in with the band's name: "Agonist" means initiator/starter of something.

In March of 2014, Alissa White-Gluz announced that she had been chosen as the next frontwoman for Arch-Enemy. She also revealed that the band - as fans knew it - was "over", and that Vicky Psarakis would be taking over as vocalist. She would later reveal that the band had in fact kicked her out of the group: "Little did I know that during that [during White-Gluz' European tour with The Agonist], The Agonist were lying to my face and they were actually going behind my back trying to find someone to replace me. They waited through an entire European tour with me, through local shows until the last show we had booked in 2013 which was I think December 7th. We played that show and the next day they all came to my house and basically kicked me out of the band, spit in my face, locked me out of my emails what a big fucking mess. For the next week I was in total panic mode trying to regain access to my accounts and in total shock that the band I had built for ten years for more than a 3rd of my life at that point was now stolen from me."

Though the change has inevitably produced some Internet Backdraft, the band have taken it in their stride and produced the new album Eye of Providence in 2015. This was followed by a fifth album, appropriately titled Five in 2016.

Their current line-up is:
  • Vicky Psarakais - Vocals (2014 - )
  • Danny Marino - Guitar (2004 - )
  • Chris Kells - Bass, Background Growls (2004 - )
  • Simon McKay - Drums, Live Drums (2007 - )
  • Pascal "Paco" Jobin - Guitar (2010 - )

Former members include:
  • Derek Nadon - Drums (? - 2007)
  • Andrew Tapley - Guitar (2008 - 2009)
  • Chris Adolph - Guitar on tour (2009)
  • Justin Deguire - Guitar on tour (2011)
  • Alissa White-Gluz - Vocals, Lyrics, Planning of the Album Artwork (2004 - 2014)

So far they have released four studio albums, one EP and one single:
  • Once Only Imagined (2007)
  • Lullabies For The Dormant Mind (2009)
  • The Escape (EP) (2011)
  • Prisoners (2012)
  • Disconnect Me (Single) (2014)
  • Eye of Providence (2015)
  • Five (2016)

And they have music videos for:

The Agonist provide examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight - Waiting Out The Winter (written by Simon), I Endeavor (written by Paco)
  • Accent On The Wrong Syllable - Quite frequent on Prisoners in particular, probably as a result of squeezing sophisticated lyrics into unconventional rhythms. It's also noticeable in "Thank You Pain" ("it's not only my afTERlife I bereave" and "think about the STATistics you feed"), but more or less stopped happening with the more melodic, straightforward sound of Eye of Providence.
  • Air Guitar - How Danny comes up with his riffs.
  • All Drummers Are Animals - Averted. Simon is a friendly, funny guy with frequent moments of Crazy Awesome.
  • All Men Are Perverts - Simon, apparently; he tried hitting on Alissa at his audition. Might have just been a one-off though (see All Drummers Are Animals above).
  • Almighty Janitor - Kells, who provides both bass backing for Danny and Paco, and vocal backing for Alissa/Vicky. He is also very active in engaging the crowd during live shows, handles a lot of band photography and even directs some of their music videos!
  • Altum Videtur - Memento Mori and Globus Hystericus.
  • Apathetic Citizens - Alissa's Berserk Button.
  • Ask a Stupid Question... - When asked by an interviewer what the most important thing to have with him when inspiration struck was, Danny replied "For music? A guitar. For lyrics? A pen."
  • Audience Participation Song - Thank You Pain is an audience participation video casting Alissa as a defendent, death-growl Alissa as a judge, and the audience as the jury.
  • Badass Beard - Paco has a pretty mighty one (and it has become something of a Memetic Mutation among the band).
  • Belief Makes You Stupid - Predator and Prayer takes this line, advocating a more existentialist worldview. Follow The Crossed Line has a similar message.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed - The Sentient.
    "Euthanasia is a crimeless death penalty , but it's still better than what they get when they're tortured, brutally murdered, because some fucking coward can't make a clean living."
  • The Cameo - Youri Raymond from Cryptopsy and Unhuman on Lullabies for the Dormant Mind. Also Melina Soochan, Avi Ludmer and Jonathan Lefrancois Leduc (Blackguard) performing additional instruments. Their producer even got in a few sneaky Metal Screams on their first single Business Suits and Combat Boots.
    • In turn Alissa has cameo'd in songs for Synastry, The Plasmarifle, Blackguard, Erimha and Kamelot! You can see her wearing a Plasmarifle t-shirt at the end of the Business Suits music video.
  • Chick Magnet - Paco Jobin (nuff' said) and Alissa is a Clueless Chick Magnet. (When it comes to guys, Alissa is fully aware of the Chick Magnet status. Just read some of the youtube comments.)
  • Creepy Children Singing - Employed in Predator and Prayer, in a similar vein to Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall.
    Choir: "We hear you, we don't care. We hear you, we don't care..."
  • Concept Video - Thank You Pain (verging on surreal).
  • Costume Porn - Alissa's stage outfits. Generally averted by Vicky.
  • Couch Gag - Kells often introduces the band with "We are the Agonist, and we're here to x", where x is usually an Amusing Injury resulting from The Power of Rock.
  • Dawn of an Era - Alissa pauses in the middle of Predator and Prayer to deliver such a speech, which turns into a Metal Scream by the end. Vicky does the same thing in The Ocean.
  • Determinator - They don't stop their gigs for injuries, sickness, car breakdowns, headliners pulling out of tours, or even natural disasters.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil - justified.
  • Distracted By The Shiny - In one interview with Skulls n Bones, Alissa stops mid-sentence to point out a typo on a passing van.
  • Dramatic Pause - In a few songs; sometimes by the whole band (eg. Lonely Solipsist), sometimes by Alissa/Vicky alone.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video - And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep, Thank You, Pain and Business Suits and Combat Boots
  • Epic Rocking - Ideomotor (which, incidentally, they love playing live) and As Above, So Below, both clocking in at about 8 minutes.
  • Ethereal Choir - Swan Lake
    • Also in the background of quite a few other songs. E.g: Predator and Prayer.
  • Even the Girls Want Her - Alissa. I'm just just going to leave other tropes she fits into and are related to this trope; The Charmer, I Didn't Mean to Turn You On and Stupid Sexy Alissa.
    • To a lesser extent, Vicky....though this will probably change now that Eye of Providence has been released.
  • Executive Meddling - Parodied in the music video for Gates of Horn and Ivory, where the video directors try to turn the band into a Glam Metal group. Unsurprisingly, the band take the song's lyrical theme to heart and Start Their Own music video.
  • Final Solution - The trope namer is referenced in Born Dead, Buried Alive. It is probably worth noting that Alissa is of Jewish heritage, and lost family members in the Holocaust.
  • First Time Feeling - I Endeavor
  • Foreshadowing - Synopsis, the slightly mind screwy intro from their first album, contains a distorted vocal excerpt of Rise and Fall.
  • Friendly Rivalry - Kells and Paco occasionally try to one-up each other during live shows.
  • Genre-Busting - The band has variously been described as Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore (due to their use of breakdowns and alternating clean/harsh vocals) and Deathcore, and they also have some progressive elements (which have become prominent in their more recent work).
  • Gratuitous French - At the end of Martyr Art, and at the start of Revenge of the Dadaists. Less gratuitous than most, however, seeing as they're from Quebec.
    • Martyr Art - Accablées de misère en décembre, les muses se baignent en flammes.Noyées dans l'ombre elles disparaissent, attendant le divin pientre de l'Univers, le Soliel
      • Revenge of the Dadaists - Sont-ils prisonniers? Devrais-je les libérer?
  • Green Aesop - Many of their songs touch on this (Business Suits and Combat Boots, Globus Hystericus and The Sentient being the most obvious ones, though even those tend to deal with a great deal more than just environmental issues).
  • Harsher in Hindsight - A certain promo photo for Prisoners depicts Alissa and the other band members having a violent falling out.
  • Humans Are Flawed - A theme in many of their songs (Thank You Pain, among others).
  • I Am the Band: As of 2014, Danny Marino.
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On - It's fair to say that the entire band, past and present, are a rather attractive bunch.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics - On occasion. Alissa is aware of this, and has stated that she thinks it would be cool if someone made a misheard lyrics video.
    • Less prominent with Vicky, whose growling style is slightly deeper and slower, and thus more understandable. Compare and contrast.
  • In the Hood - Danny, quite often (though not when he is on stage).
  • Jerk Ass: Alissa. Her abrasive personality, anger issues, gigantic ego, incredibly frustrating and difficult behavior during writing and recording, and burning hatred for touring and intense dislike of fans (the latter of which led to numerous incidents where she was incredibly rude to fans for no reason, embarrassing the band and forcing them to apologize for her) had already managed to alienate the rest of the band well before the split. Then she made things much worse when she joined Arch Enemy behind their backs, left them in the dark about her involvement with them (making her already-dodgy self even harder to contact), and was totally prepared to make Arch Enemy her main gig and throw them the table scraps. Then she proceeded to try and throw them under the bus and play the victim when they fired her for the sake of their own survival. Alissa's entire run with them was defined by a need to use them for her own personal gain until they were done serving their purpose, and they more than likely would have broken up had they kept her.
  • Last Name Basis - Chris Kells, notable because every other member of the band usually uses their first name.
  • Last Note Nightmare - In Everybody Wants You (Dead). A Mind Screw-y Subdued Section is followed by a discordant wall of noise with Alissa screaming in the background.
  • Lead Bassist: Kells is a type B.
  • Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair! - Discussed in Globus Hystericus. Also touched upon in The Tempest (along with Who Wants to Live Forever?)
  • Male Band, Female Singer: First with Alissa White-Gluz and later with Vicky Psarakais.
  • Master Race - The concept is venomously attacked in Born Dead, Buried Alive.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor - Alissa, whose somewhat stern stage persona was in contrast to the much more friendly way she comes across in interviews and videos. She seems to have dropped this (or is just more comfortable) since joining Arch Enemy.
    • Vicky on the other hand is straight-up Nice Character Nice Actor.
  • Metal Scream - Probably 60-70 percent of the vocals, up until Eye of Providence where it drops to maybe 40-50.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness - Excluding acoustic numbers like Swan Lake and A Gentle Disease, they range from a standard 8 (Void of Sympathy) to a hard 9 (Phanophobia).
    • Their hardest song, which is a very solid 10, is And their Eulogies Sang Me to Sleep (though as of Five, The Resurrection is a close contender).
  • Morality Ballad - Well, more like Morality Mosh, but a lot of their songs have An Aesop for you to think about.
  • Motor Mouth - Usually during the Guttural Growler sections of songs.
  • Murder Ballad - The Raven Eyes.
  • My Car Hates Me - Their touring van, "the blue hornet", has a habit of breaking down in the worst possible places.
    • Tonight, Someone Dies - They are going to get their revenge by destroying it on film, and are taking suggestions from fans as to how they should do it.
    Simon: "Baseball bats, spiked clubs, grenades, you think we could procure a flamethrower?"
  • New Sound Album - They like this trope:
    • Lullabies for the Dormant Mind was overall faster and had less emphasis on breakdowns, along with a more pronounced Melodic Death Metal influence.
    • Prisoners had more Progressive Metal influences than both of the earlier albums. This probably has to do with them being from the Canadian Death Metal scene, which is big on the more aggressive prog metal.
    • Eye of Providence was the most varied, wandering up and down the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness (which was deliberate as the band wanted to try out new ideas and take advantage of a more collaborative song-writing process with their new vocalist)
    • Five verged on being a concept album, and had a much grimier sound (especially in the vocals).
  • Non-Appearing Title - Lots.
  • Not So Omniscient After All - Covered in Rise and Fall and The Sentient.
  • Pimped-Out Dress - Alissa in the Thank You, Pain music video.
  • Precision F-Strike - All over the place. Usually signifies that Alissa is pissed about something (usually humans in general).
  • Protest Song - Again, lots of them.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis! - In Trophy Kill ("Fuck! You! Fucking hypocrite!")
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni - A minor but noticeable case with the band's singers: Alissa's stage persona was very stern and controlled (see Mean Character, Nice Actor), while Vicky tends to smile more and mess around with the other band members during instrumental sections.
  • Screw Destiny - Gates of Horn and Ivory
  • Self-Backing Vocalist - Alissa (and Vicky) after Lullabies For The Dormant Mind. Kells did the backing in In Once Only Imagined (and continues to do some at live shows).
  • Serial Escalation - An ongoing competition between Alissa's (and now Vicky's) whiplash vocals, the three guitarists' Epic Riffs and Simon's ludicrously fast drumming.
  • Signature Move - Kells and Paco have one: holding down the frets of each others' guitars during instrumental sections.
  • Simple Score of Sadness - The end of Business Suits and Combat Boots.
  • Sixth Ranger - The two most notable are Pascal (Paco) Jobin, who joined the band in 2010, and Vicky Psarakis who replaced Alissa in 2014.
  • Soprano and Gravel - In this case, both provided by the same singer.
  • Subdued Section - Both within the context of the album (Chiaroscuro for Imagined, Swan Lake for Lullabies, A Gentle Disease for Eye) and within individual songs (such as Void of Sympathy, Chlorpromazine, and several songs on Prisoners).
  • Talking to Herself - Thank You Pain
  • Technician Vs Performer - A mild example: Danny comes up with intricate and technical riffs, to which Paco adds shredding solos. This carries over to live shows, where Danny is generally the most subdued of the three guitarists.
  • Titled After the Song - Inverted with The Tempest, which was the original band name.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl - Vicky and Alissa. While Alissa's stage outfits mainly consist of leggings and trousers, she otherwise prefers dresses and skirts. Vicky seems to be more tomboyish (but not without her girly traits). She seems to like wearing trousers.
  • Torture Cellar - The music video for My Witness, Your Victim features one of these, where a Gas Mask Mook (who turns out to be Vicky) is torturing some poor guy, apparently under orders from a nearby speaker.
    • Dramatic Unmask - The Mook then comes to their senses, takes off their mask and smashes the speaker instead.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change - Chlorpromazine, where Alissa's growl rises to a shriek after the bridge.
  • Walking Disaster Area - An alarming number of their gigs have coincided with various natural disasters.
    Alissa: I feel like as a band we are sync'd with nature in the worst way possible.
    • It's possible that Alissa is just The Jinx, given that there have been no notable disasters since she left the band, but on her first tour with Arch-Enemy she broke her ribs.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever? - Perpetual Notion
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair - Alissa, most of the time. Vicky, on the other hand, seems to prefer blonde.
    • Alissa's other hair colours include: red, purple and blonde (her natural colour).
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness - Seems to be the case of the Agonist kicking Alissa out due to her joining Arch-Enemy.
    • However, there are of course two sides to this story. Alissa's side states that she had been fired from the band after wishing to join Arch Enemy and have The Agonist as her main band while taking breaks to tour with Arch Enemy. This resulted in Alissa being locked out of her business accounts and emails, and the guys from The Agonist going behind her back and looking for a new vocalist without Alissa's knowledge.
    • The Agonist's side being that after she announced her wish to dial The Agonist down to her side project, which resulted in Alissa being locked out, and the guys from The Agonist claimed that they simply parted ways after they couldn't come to an agreement and went on looking for a new vocalist, understandably not wanting to become just a side project after being a pretty successful band for a decade.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle - Born Dead Buried Alive sounds like it's about to end on a long, fading guitar chord, then cuts back in and plays for another 30 seconds.