Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The masters return from worlds beyond. - 82%

hells_unicorn, June 24th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Metalville (Digipak)

The brand name of Agent Steel has always been associated with the bizarre, but few moments were as bizarre as the reaction that many had to their 2007 dud Alienigma. The notion that something so generally confused and poorly conceived could be received with a similar enthusiasm as Omega Conspiracy, let alone said band's iconic 80s material, was far more mind-boggling than any conspiracy theory that was ever entertained by this band lyrically. To be fair, there were a few voices pointing out that the emperor had no clothes and that Bruce Hall's change in vocal style and the band's more Nevermore-sounding approach were total bombs, but generally those voices were in the minority. After having opted to change the band's name to Masters Of Metal (it's the same band minus John Cyriis or Bruce Hall), it seems that mistakes have been learned from and a more effective approach inspired by the earlier Hall albums has been taken, and thus comes From Worlds Beyond, the album that Alienigma should have been.

There is only one truly significant change and surprise to be found on this album, and that is the impressive vocal display put on my long time guitarist Bernie Versailles, who was clearly paying attention to what Cyriis and Hall were doing while pounding out riffs in the background and in between guitar solos. This is actually a bit of pleasant eventuality given the fact that Rick Mythiasin, who was originally tapped to do vocals and turned in a solid display on the Tomb Of Ra single a few years back, dropped out and left the band to potentially delay this album even furthe while trying to get a replacement. He leans a bit closer to the sound exhibited by Bruce Hell on Order Of The Illuminati and employs a fair bit of gravely thrash shouts along side the soaring notes, but he also has a few moments where he shatters glass with almost the same degree of intensity that Cyriis did on Unstoppable Force, and at times his tone and inflection is a little bit reminiscent of Ray Adler, whom he has also collaborated with in Redemption and as an occasional live musician for Fates Warning.

Gone are most of the boring, plodding grooves and pseudo-tough guy posturing while bitching about political conspiracies of 2007, and back are the more engaging and elaborate commentaries on what lies behind the mainstream narrative. To be fair, there are a few modern groove/thrash elements that pop in and out for brief stints like the pounding intro of "The Mindless" with the dissonant lead drone, but evolves itself into a nice chunky, moderately fast thrasher before getting too bogged down. Things are also generally slowed down to more of a mid-paced stride on "Into The Vortex" and "Doors Beyond Our Galaxy", but the superior vocal approach and quicker evolving structure employed make these more along the lines of modern reinterpretations of the slower sound heard on much of Unstoppable Force rather than a plodding attempt to ape Nevermore. But at the end of the day, even these pleasing mid-paced numbers take a back seat to a faster and even more compelling speed/thrash approach as typified in highlight points such as "Supremacy", "Tomb Of Ra", "Evolution Of Being" and also the Helstar-like speeder "Vengeance & Might", featuring none other than the front man of said act himself James Rivera.

It may be a bit of a cliche, but this is the sort of album that forces one to ask that nagging question of "What's in a name anyway?", as this is not really distinguishable from the better works that Agent Steel had accomplished between 1999 and 2004. It is also a testament to the determination of all involved and particularly that of Bernie Versailles, who actually stepped up with no experience as a lead vocalist and basically filled the shoes of Bruce Hall without losing any of the polish and power that was on display by him at his best. It's pretty well settled that Agent Steel and any spin-off thereof will not top the magic that occurred back during the heyday of 80s speed metal, but this is about as worthy of the name and legacy carried there in a modern context as anything that could have been accomplished. These are musicians with their eyes set on the universe beyond, but even the most adventurous of interstellar travelers always come home.