|Review: Agent Steel - Omega Conspiracy|
Label: Candlelight Records
Year released: 1999
Genre: Thrash Metal
Review online: June 8, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Release number four for this legendary band from the 80’s, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. After all, the last album from these guys was put out in 1987, so this is obviously a comeback record. I never followed Agent Steel before, so this was my first experience.
This whole thing is obviously masterminded by Bernie Versailles, who had the distinction of replacing Frank Aresti in Fates Warning after Jim Matheos lost his mind, he also played in Ray Alder’s project band Engine. Not surprisingly, there are some similarities here to "No Exit"-era Fates, and new frontman Bruce Hall sounds remarkably similar to the way Ray Alder sounded on that record. But Agent Steel are not progressive at all, in fact, there is nothing on this disc that you haven’t heard before if you lived through the 80’s. This is a thrash record, with all the good and bad stuff that implies.
Most of "Omega Conspiracy" is mid-paced to fast, with a nice crunchy guitar sound and some very cool riffs. From the careening chaos of "Destroy the Hush" through the hyperactive "Illuminati Is Machine" to the heavy attack of "New Godz", there’s a lot to like here. Bruce Hall has a powerful wail and sounds a bit like a young Ray Alder crossed with Russ Anderson. He sounds pretty good, but a lot of the time it seems like he can’t bother to stay on key. He’s a solid frontman, and his performance is balls-out, but he needs to try staying on a note. He could be a first-rate singer with a little more discipline. His out of control wailing almost ruins "Awaken the Swarm" while "Into the Nowhere" shows that he can actually sing when he reins it in a little.
"Omega Conspiracy" has all the drawbacks of a lot of thrash records. Much of it runs together and lacks character, and the songwriting needs more focus. The drumming is fairly precise here, but needs better production to help hold the music together. I get the feeling a few more months of refining the material could have really beefed up this album.
The CD cover is a very cool painting, and it’s too bad that the interior layout is so stinky. The lyrics are stupid, and printed in a yellow on black format that hurts my eyes.
This is a fun CD, as far as that goes, but it leaves me wishing the band had put more work into it. It does give me hope that their next one will be better. "Omega Conspiracy" is a good album, and I love the band’s sound. More careful work the next time around could produce a classic.
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Interview with Juan Garcia (guitars) on July 7, 2003 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Interview with vocalist John Cyriis on October 8, 2019 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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