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Another alien attack - 72%

Felix 1666, July 27th, 2015

To return after twelve years is not so difficult at all, but to reanimate the old spirit is a challenging task. Agent Steel accepted the challenge. The well-known guitarists Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles built the backbone of the line-up. They kept the band running and its UFO flying. However, Agent Steel was travelling through new spheres. The modern sound did not pay tribute to the classic works of the formation. From my point of view, this constituted no reason to stigmatize the sound engineer. "Omega Conspiracy" had a natural drum sound and the guitars generated an atmospheric density. The voice of Bruce Hall, the successor of the slightly mad cult singer John Cyriis, was enthroned above the instrumental section. High-pitched singing and a powerful mode of expression, woeful vocal lines and imperious commands, Hall served the entire bandwidth. It is always difficult to slip into the shoes of other people, but Hall was not racked by self-doubt. No doubt, to select him for the job on the microphone had been a good choice of the band.

With regard to the song material, Agent Steel proved again its flexibility. Without being inconsistent, the band covered a wide spectrum. On the one hand, this makes it a bit difficult to describe the music in general. On the other hand, this was nothing new - just remember "Unstoppable Force" and compare, for example, its title track with "The Day at Guyana" or "Traveler". However, let´s dive into the songs while focusing first on "Awaken the Swarm".

Its beginning and the verses appeared as a lost track of "Mourning Has Broken", the underrated last album of the British Sabbat. Its accusing vocals met melodies that shined with an almost tragic attraction. The slow moving rhythm turned into a speed metal foundation and the chorus lent the song an unpredictable dynamic. While culminating in a furious end, this epic and mighty piece showed that Agent Steel was still interested in a varied approach. Nevertheless, speed was the order of the day, at least during the first half of the album. The double strike at the beginning clarified the situation. "Destroy the Hush" did not only destroy the hush. While utilising synergy effects, it destroyed any kind of sluggishness at the same time. This request for destruction marked an aggressive and very strong opener. But it was surpassed by the following "Illuminati Is Machine" that fell under the category "Gift of the Gods". Its threatening aura intertwined with straightforward riffs and directly assaulting drums in order to become the soundtrack of the most dangerous world conspiracy. The merciless verse as well as the slightly desperate bridge were brilliant, but the pillorying and melodic chorus took the cake. Hall´s voluminous voice appeared, sorry for that moronic pun, as an unstoppable force that was striking the right notes in an impressive manner. This explosive track marked the undisputed highlight of the ten pieces. Even 16 years after the publication of "Omega Conspiracy", it does not need to shy away from comparisons with the classics of the band.

It was a pleasure to hear that Agent Steel´s creativity was not yet exhausted. 14 years after their groundbreaking debut, the band was still full of courage and musical energy. The heavyweight "Fighting Backwards" confirmed once more this statement. It shined with successful tempo changes and a vivid chorus. Unfortunately, the remaining songs (with the exception of "Awaken the Swarm") were not on an equal footing with the first three tunes. To add insult to injury, a few pieces sounded terrible, for example the gruesome ballad ("Bleed Forever", it really made my usually not very sensitive ears bleed) and the middling "Into the Nowhere" whose melody lines seemed to be stolen from Steve Harris. Do not think that the weak appearance of these songs was caused by any faults of the production. With regard to the mix, I could not identify any disturbing weaknesses. These compositions were just unworthy of the proud name of Agent Steel. Due to this substandard ending, the full-length failed to work as a whole. But some of its songs deserve to be heard again and again.