|Classic Review: Agent Steel - Skeptics Apocalypse|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 1999
Review online: March 26, 2005
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
So here it is, the album that started it all for the alien-obsessed speed metallers. This is often hailed as their best album, but I'd say it is about the same as its successor, "Unstoppable Force". I still don't get why the latter is seen as a step down for the band. They're a bit different but the style is very similar. This one has a more muddy production (I read somewhere that this was recorded on a shoestring budget) that is not necessarily as fit to this speed/thrash sound as the production on "Unstoppable...", but it doesn't deter from enjoying the album (I'm not a production whore and I'm not about to begin. :))
This one here is a full-speed ahead album, no "Traveler?quot; here to save your neck from permanent headbanging-induced damage. A chiropractor's dream. The vocals are just as crazily high-pitched, although the sound gives the impression that they are lower. One can hear the same influences as on its successor, although Metallica's "speed period" is absent here, unlike on "Unstoppable Force". Makes sense, considering the year of release. A great mix of heavy, speed and thrash is what this is, with the very notable "144,000 Gone" being the absolute highlight of this album. Very catchy, dark, and the guitar melodies are beyond invigorating. This song could make you headbang even if you were stuck in a full-body cast. This is probably one, if not the best speed metal song - either way it sure is in the top 5 no matter what. Another interesting one is "Guilty As Charged", with a Maiden-like galloping riff coupled with high speed leads. Hell, there's no point going on a track by track here, as there is no bad song on the whole album.
The re-issue includes two bonus tracks (one some weird UFO thing, the other a live track), which unfortunately ruin the mood of the album a little. That's always a problem with such re-issues of classic albums - the bonus tracks are outliers. I could easily do without them. Fortunately it's easy to make your own copy with only the original tracks on it.
Great debut for a great band, and a timeless classic. Don't have it? Buy it.
Originally released in 1985.
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