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Agent Steel is typically the one band that many metal fans can agree with in being pure and true speed metal, nothing else. Diving deeper into the pits of metal it becomes quite clear they are far from being alone in this controversial genre of all things, but these guys were hands down one of the finest. With themes and lyrics totally out of the ordinary for its time this alien force was one not be messed with.
I've been an Agent Steel fan for several years now and I still don't think I can honestly decide which album I prefer more (from the Cyriis era). This, or Unstoppable Force. Both are incredibly different but still absolutely nothing but "Agent Steel", there's hardly anything you can truly compare both these albums too. The apparent issue and argument over this album is that it was simplistic and too straightforward. Riffs and rhythm's seem to get repeated from time to time, but no matter how many times I see an Agent Steel discussion spark up it seems like everyone and their best buds come up with more classic picks from this album than anything else they have ever done. From Agents of Steel, to Bleed for the Godz, to Children of the Son and so forth, this album is practically made up of nothing but insanely memorable tracks. I don't think anyone can deny this fact.
As its been stated all throughout the world, Cyriis is a vocalist in a realm of his own. Admittedly he hasn't perfected his craft on this release just yet, with a few raspy slip ups here and there (144,000 Gone has some odd vocals, etc), his performance still delivers beyond word and even far surpasses many of the finest vocalists out there. None can dish out such overpowering and clear choruses as Cyriis does on this album. If you somehow don't know the man but are a fan of the wailing and shriekiest vocalists in the business, you have no idea what you've been missing out on. He's a "clear" shrieker, one that'll make your jaw drop with his over the top vocals rather than pierce your ears, so his pitch isn't painfully high. Its probably worth mentioning he sounds just as good live as he does out of the studio also. Like everyone always begs to question, maybe he's an alien himself!
The material here is extremely consistent with no slow songs in sight. The production has aged but I can't find a way to pick it apart or anything, there's no other way I'd prefer it. Drums are fast and always in the clear, the guitars are constantly shredding things into pieces and even the bass seems to come out of nowhere every once and awhile and impresses with its insane speed. Speed was the main driving force behind Agent Steel at the time and its easy to say they are even faster than some of the earlier thrash acts from the mid-80's. Its mainly about the catchy nonstop rhythm's over melodic leads and so forth, which they would later go on to focus and develop upon with Unstoppable Force. Here they just wanted to get straight to the point, to blow your face off.
I'm not going to go over every track as I have already stressed the consistency but there are a few that stand out more than others. The opener Agents of Steel is undeniably one of their greatest tracks and if you're new to this kind of stuff it will probably destroy you. This song sets you up perfectly for what to expect with the rest of the album, ludacris speeds that are hardly matched (even today) with some downright crazy vocals. The next track Taken By Force is pretty much a stamp that states "Cyriis". His creative vocals that switch from side to side and overlayer each other completely control this one. Bleed for the Godz is by far one of my all time Agent Steel favorites. This one is more drawn out than most of the songs here and Cyriis gives off one of his most aggressive performances on it, with a chorus you will never forget. After this one Guilty as Charged is probably my next favorite pick, its got that classic intro screaming that defines metal and everything gets about 10x heavier when Cyriis unleashes that insane "Chaaaaaaaaarged" scream. Again its another completely unforgettable number. The only worthless tracks here are the two instrumentals at the beginning and the end of the album (comes with the reissue), a little more work probably could have given off that extraterrestrial vibe they were going for but it just doesn't really turn out too well. The Unexpected (Live) is the second bonus track you get with the reissue and I really would have loved to have seen this one on the album. The sound quality is utterly dense and drowned out, but its still listenable and you can tell its awesome. It has probably the best dual harmonies this album could have offered and finally, its proof that Cyriis was awesome live.
If you're new to this kind of stuff you may have to give this one some time to sink in. If not chances are you've probably already heard this album. From the beginning and to the end this is one ultimate headbanger with consistency that never lets up, packed with some of the greatest vocals in metal history. Thanks to the reissue its not impossible to find. So get it and know your Godz while preparing yourself for Unstoppable Force! Two timeless classics.