|Classic Review: Agent Steel - Unstoppable Force|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 1999
Review online: March 23, 2005
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Agent Steel are one of those bands whose discography I have in my collection but to which I've never given due attention. Shame on me. "Unstoppable Force" is the successor to the highly-acclaimed "Skeptics Apocalypse" and has always suffered from the comparison, making it a bit of an underrated classic. Overall the album is a mix of thrash and speed metal, with the emphasis on the speed aspect while the thrash sound sticks to some select appearances, with even a bit of a more straightforward heavy metal moments creeping in here and there. There are a lot of similarities with some classic bands in there (which back then were pretty much in their prime) - think of a chaotic-yet-clean mix of Metallica (first three albums), Maiden (first two), Priest (early 80s) and the early Kreator stuff and you get this. The beginning of the song "Never Surrender" sounds a lot like Maiden's "Running Free" - I wonder if they realised that at the time! :)
The vocals might take a bit of getting used to, when it's not a love-or-hate situation. Very high pitched, a bit like a mix of Rob Halford and Bobby Lucas (Overlorde-era.) There's next to no low pitched vocals here - even the closing power ballad "Traveler" is mostly sung with relatively high pitched vocals), so some people might be turned off by the style. Personally I found the vocals a bit annoying at first, but after a couple of listens I quickly grew accustomed to them.
While the album is pretty fast-paced, the closer "Traveler" comes to the rescue and gives some breathing room for your heart to catch up with the insane headbanging induced by the previous songs. It took me a while to get used to having that song end the album, I usually don't like slow-paced stuff like this as the closer, but the song is pretty damn good and, well, I just got over it. :) All in all, one damn fine speed/thrash album that never got the recognition it deserves. Highly recommended.
Originally released in 1987 on Combat Records
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