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Pay no more than five bucks for this album - 77%

Gutterscream, May 27th, 2006

It was only a matter of time before fiery 'ol thrash would evolve into an advanced lifeform that didn't stray too far from its primordial rust, something for the thinker's musical union to sink bicuspids into. That meal came prepared somewhere around '87 even though Mustaine and the energizer bunnies in Watchtower had seen through the style's tangled mess about two years earlier, and instead of burdening it with a handle that already had a heated love/hate relationship with rock fans, someone came up with the pretentiously clinical caption of technical thrash. It stuck, bands like Testament, Forbidden, and a hundred others strove to climb above and beyond what Agent Steel, Razor and the German alliance had built with blood and grime, and thus a new breed finds its foothold. Some still called it progressive anyway.

Silence Studios does a capital job washing the muck from the score and bringing this sub-style's focal point into view: instrumentation. Like a lot of tech thrash, the orphan release from this Swedish five-piece has circumvented the bulwark of fuzz earlier thrash framed its sound around, being pretty scrubbed and sterile, something like what Metallica had just done and Xentrix will do in about a year. Unfortunately, down the drainpipe along with the dirt went a few layers of intensity and some of the style's primal spirit, and is a valid reason why bands treading this new ground of magnitude failed to thrill the crap out of me.

But even without a production with bristles, Agony have the ability to scorch.
Side openers "Storm of the Apocalypse" and "Night of the Emperor" are fraught with anxiety, the former shifting motion a bit more than the brawnier latter, meanwhile gas-powered album closer "Deadly Legacy" gloms the best of both, hitching a ride on a bullet train that pulls in chugging one minute, then corkscrews dramatically the next, and it's apparent why they reserved this for the kicker. Remaining songs like "Mass Manipulation" and "Shadow of Fear" aren't bad though, a little more characterless to accompany their less frothy visage, and catchy, stuck-in-head riffs apparently aren't growing on trees in the band's area. Solos are better than average while the vox is mill-runner ordinary, lightly gruff and a tad lower to squeeze onto the same stalled escalator with so many others.

Never mentioned like Phantom, Acrophet, and Powersurge, but worth a handful of listens. At the very least you could find one or two songs that may tickle your pickle.