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On disc: Agent Steel

- Omega Conspiracy - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars
- Order Of The Illuminati - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars

Order Of The Illuminati

Order Of The Illuminati
(Scarlet Records - 2003)

Older metal fans will remember Agent Steel from the mid-80's when they toured in Europe with Overkill and Anthrax. And speed metal fans around the world are still listening to Skeptic's Apocalypse and Mad Locust Rising. Then they disappeared. In the late 90's they returned with Omega Conspiracy. The album wasn't bad, but couldn't keep up with their former releases. Now they present the follow-up which is called Order Of The Illuminati which is produced by guitarists Bernie Versailles and Juan Garcia. This time they sound tighter. Order Of The Illuminati is heavier and has the Agent Steel sound trademarks. Technical speed metal with melodic, catchy vocals that's what Agent Steel is these days. On Earth Under Lucifer are reminiscences audible. Partly Bruce Hall's vocals sound a little like Bruce Dickinson, that's mainly due to the phrasing. The song is guitar-driven and has powerful, hammering drums and a pounding bass. Here and there Bruce Hall screams like in the good old days of speed metal. For me this is one of the highlights on Order Of The Illuminati. A song like Enslaved is a real thrasher. Great twin guitar riffing. During the chorus they are more mid-tempo and in the middle part they slow down a little more, just to speed up again and to present a screaming guitar solo. Btw, in the booklet is noted who is playing the solo in which song. Forever Black is another fast one, a thrash song, guitar-driven with high screams here and there. The backing vocals are powerful and kicking ass. A song which could have been on one of their early releases, even if it would have sound a little different then. But a track in their own tradition. The track Insurrection starts slowly with oriental sounds. Here Bruce Hall add more emotional vocals. Whispered words came out of the back, heavy guitar riffs added, now more mid-tempo. A hyperfast guitar solo of both guitarist during an up-tempo part. Then back to the main theme. Another highlight. I can resume that Agent Steel is offering a variety of songs, but stay in the boundaries of the speed / power metal genre. Only Dance Of St. Vitus is different, coz this a short instrumental - a bass solo! The chance for Karlos Medina to step into the limelight. That one gives the listener a little break from headbanging.
Not another Skeptic's Apocalypse, but a good one. Needs a few spins to grow. Not just interesting for speed metal and thrash fans who know them from their early days, power metal fans should listen to this one as well.

8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt

Omega Conspiracy

Omega Conspiracy
(Candlelight Rec. - 2000)


Agent Steel recorded a few trash metal masterpieces in the mid-80's incl. Skeptic's Apocalypse. The Californians are back, but they haven't found their old singer John Cyriis to ask him to come back. So the guitar duo Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles had to look for a new singer... And they found Bruce Hall! Agent Steel's technical thrash is still played on a high quality standard, but there is something missing... Perhaps it's just because their 80's releases became kinda classics of this genre. Ain't easy to record an album to top the own legacy... Beside that trash is not that popular these days! To decide to do the music they love and to present this to the fans, is worth giving the album a try and to listen to Omega Conspiracy like they are a new band. A solid album, not as good as their 80's releases, but is nearly impossible! Try New Godz and Awaken The Swarm.

7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


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