The Agent – Kingdom of Fear

Leadhenge Records

Buy CD here

Review by Rick Ossian

The Agent is many things.  They are sort of post-metal, you could call them modern metal, or prog, or even sort of quasi-industrial.  They reminded me mostly of Tool, though there were moments of U2 (yikes!) and Three Days Grace that would pop up occasionally in the grooves.  I was intrigued by the disturbing nature of some of the musical arrangements, and was sufficiently creeped out (à la Tool) to make we want to listen to this offering again.  And again.  You get the picture, I was almost drooling after three or four turns.  You may get the idea into your head that I like this sort of rock.  You would be correct in that assumption.

Originally from New Zealand, this lot have called London home since 2008.  The Agent is comprised of James Donaldson (vocals, guitar), Matt Flower (bass, backing vocals), Gerald Gill (guitar) and Alex Alvarado (drums).  They are an incendiary collective, and not afraid to show their influences, and their hearts, on their sleeves.  Some would even go so far as to deem them too much show.  In fact, one of my friends and colleagues would most likely label them ‘derivative’.  You know who you are.  We shall not trouble ourselves with such distractions this day, my lovely punters!  Suffice it to say that all involved are excellent musicians, and with members of this caliber the band can’t help but sound slamming.

There are many intense metal moments on this disc, in particular among the following tracks; Lunatic, the sinister title track, the epic proggy slam of Vondelpark, Wilt the Garden‘s guitar-bass interplay, not to mention the resounding final slam of Vultures.  The meat is everywhere you look, even in the early Sabbath-style shorter interludes such as Intermezzo.  There are two others, Autodestruction, the opener, which is a bass-heavy, HEAVY-duty intro.  Life as an interlude could, I suppose, be entirely boring – not so the case here.  The other is entitled Leadhenge, and is more of an elderly interlude, if you will.  Something of a pedestrian number, as interludes go.

Dark Dreams, by way of contrast, features a Tool-esque chugging guitar/drum intro, with a wicked bass presence and some very busy drumming.  About the three-and-a-half-minute mark one gets the sense that the vocalist is trying to shout the story.  Sometimes these ‘nu-metal’ guys get kind of excited.  More power to him!  Collecting Scars includes a haunting intro that could definitely be another of several Tool-type outtakes.  Or perhaps a metal version of U2.  Made of Gold is another good slammer, perhaps a bit reminiscent of Three Days Grace, especially in the vocal department.

Lunatic is a more uptempo number with some very cool bass work.  I was sort of reminded of a metal U2 again (dang that’s twice – yikes!).  This number is a hard charger, listen to it a couple of times straight away and you will see what I mean.  Well worth a couple of extra nods.  Wilt the Garden again features some extremely quick and cool bass licks.  About two minutes in we find the guitar-bass interplay to which I alluded above.  At about the two-and-a-half minute mark we are treated to a jazzy little jam that kind of breaks things up a bit.

The title track, Kingdom of Fear, is sinister in nature, but it is a good jam.  Like You Never Left features an acoustic intro, and is very mellow, even to the point of being slightly creepy.  Same with Vondelpark, the big prog number.  The middle section is just kind of mellow and repetitive.  Somehow, it works.  You wouldn’t expect it. But there it is.  I almost forgot the other interlude (Lost In Transience).  More of a bass interlude.  All in all, a very decent effort.

****/5

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