AGENT STEEL - Alienigma

Agent Steel - Alienigma

10 songs
53:05 minutes
***** ***


Agent Steel are one of those criminally overlooked bands of the Eighties, defining the genre of speed metal with their classics Skeptics Apocalypse (1985) and Unstoppable Force (1987). Their high adrenaline metal was marked by John Cyriis siren-like vocals, weird new age / science fiction lyrics, probably influenced by Cyriis’ more than just a little peculiar personality and the guitar tandem of Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles. When the expected fame didn’t come, the band vanished in the late Eighties, with Garcia having moderate success with his new band Evildead, and Versailles becoming a sidekick of Ray Alder, making guest appearances in Fates Warning and later joining forces with Alder in Engine and more recently Redemption.

1999 saw the return of Agent Steel, with Bruce Hall replaying John Cyriis on the microphone, and since then, the band released every four years a new longplayer on a different label, which probably didn’t help making their reunion well known in the outside world. Hall is no Cyriis of course, his voice will never match his predecessor’s high range, but Alienigma is already his third album with the band and therefore even old time fans should accept this new instance of Agent Steel, which is still defined by the virtuoso guitar attacks of Garcia and Versailles, one of the leading guitar two-pieces in the heavy metal world.

Alienigma was my first contact with Agent Steel since their Eighties period, and I admit I had my initial difficulties. Their sound has become harder over the years, Hall is a more powerful vocalist, and they do sound different from their early years. But repeated listening reveals that their new album has its very definitive charm. The lyrics are still about bizarre alien invasion themes, and the songs are moderately long speed thrash metal gems that not many bands, old and young, can come up with today. Although I miss standout tracks, the entire fifty-three minutes are entertaining high octane heavy metal that spoil us with impeccable guitar solos gogo, powerful vocals that at times even aim at higher notes and a rhythm section that provides a solid backdrop for this speed metal inferno.

The lyrics are a bit silly after all, considering that we are in the presence of grown men, but Agent Steel are a band that proves without a doubt that they are more than just a bunch of people who want to cash in on their legacy. Alienigma is a convincing statement that should find its audience among the fans of classic speed, thrash and power metal.

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