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If you're like me, and you're a huge fan of the first two Agent Steel albums, I can tell you one thing about the probability of this appealing to you: fuck if I know.
I'm not familiar with the last two albums, but a couple things stick out to me about this one. The vocals suck. And Agent Steel have suffered somewhat from the age-old affliction of legendary-band-of-yore-is-now-groovy. Oh, and this sounds like a collaboration between Arch Enemy, Nevermore, and Machine Head, with a thoroughly hung over Bruce Dickenson doing occasional vocal lines. I think some would be shocked to find how accurate of a description that is. For example, the main riff in Hybridizer I swear is straight out of a newer Arch Enemy song. And Wormfood. And at least one riff in every song. Seriously.
No, this is not the Agent Steel I love, but that doesn't necessarily mean I can't grow to like it, right?
Doubtful, I'm afraid.
Primary problem being: the vocalist is a twat. Like I said, I'm not familiar with the last two albums, but after a quick listen, Mr. Hall didn't sound this lame on those albums. This is just all around weak; his pseudo-thrash vocals don't cut it, and he certainly can't sing. What's worse is that he's too loud in the mix. John Cyriis may be a complete basket case, but I'd prefer him on vocals any day.
Now, there are a couple really cool riffs floating around here. They are few and far, however. The guitarists attempt some melodic epic leads but they’re just not cut from that cloth - Agent Steel isn't a band for guitar finesse. And unfortunately, they mostly resort to using riffs ranging from passable to flat out dung that borders on nu-metal.
Modern generic thick production. Standard drum performance. Overly thick and inappropriate downtuned guitars (very nu-metal sounding guitar tone). And a poor man’s Warrel Dane/hung over Bruce Dickenson twat on vocals. For shame, Agent Steel.
Occasional cool riffs are the only saving grace here. There are actually a few songs that are pretty good from start to finish, which include: Tiamat’s Fall which includes a pretty old school, almost NWOBHM sounding riff; Fasioned From Dust which has some quirky riffs is pretty interesting; Lamb To The Slaughter is really fast, actually bona fide thrash at the beginning (surprise!) and goes into probably the fastest drum part out of any Agent Steel, wasn’t expecting that toward the end of the album. Extinct is tolerable, too.
The rest is pretty much dung.
Agent Steel may have managed to come away from a decade long hiatus with some of the old magic intact, but I don't see it carrying them much further.