Review Summary: Quite possibly the definitive speed metal album of all time.
Ahh, speed metal. A sort of bastard child of thrash metal and power metal. But with such a description, it is often hard to pin down exactly which bands are speed metal. They need that sort of perfect blend of power metal and thrash metal, and Agent Steel is one of the few bands I’ve heard that are pretty much widely agreed to be speed metal. Not thrash or power metal. But pure speed metal. As one of the pure speed metal bands, they also manage to release the definitive speed metal album. Agent Steel on this album is:
John Cyriis- Vocals
Juan Garcia- Guitar
Bernie Versailles- Guitar
Michael Zaputil- Bass
Chuck Profus- Drums
Right off the bat of this album, you are nailed with the title track, “Unstoppable Force.” And boy does that description fit this album. The whole album is very fast paced and aggressive. All the elements of the band combine to create an atmosphere of barely contained aggression. The soaring, Halford-esque vocals; the amazing guitar duo, weaving in and out of each other; the deep rumble of the bass; and the ceaseless pounding on the drums. These elements all blend perfectly, and not one overtakes the other.
With all this speed going on, one might start to lose themselves. But have no worries, Agent Steel also manages to slow it down a bit. “Never Surrender” is a more mid-paced track, but has an absolutely killer solo, and “Chosen To Stay” also starts off a little slower before erupting into another onslaught of full blown speed. But the biggest surprise when it comes to speed is the song “Still Searching.” This is what I call the “ballad” of the album. It is a slow track, but it manages to pull off a lot of emotion, so, it, surprisingly, doesn’t suck.
And I believe the reason that these slower tracks work is because of the astounding vocal talents of John Cyriis. When people list great heavy metal vocalists, they often mention Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Hansi Kursch, and others, but I believe that John Cyriis should be able to be put among those greats. He manages to put large amount of emotion into his voice without losing a bit of the aggression. However, he tends to sing in a more power metal-esque style than most thrash bands or speed metal bands, so that may put some people off, but for me it enhances the music.
Agent Steel also has two fantastic guitarists, and their riffs and solos really are fantastic. The dual guitars work well together, and really make the album. “The Day at Guyana” is basically a song where Juan and Bernie are allowed to go nuts, and it works. This song is filled with great riffs and some cool dual guitar work.
The rhythm section is also solid, with consistent, audible bass lines and fast paced drumming throughout the album. Any fans of solid bass should check this album out for this alone, because few thrash or power metal albums have such good, audible bass lines.
The whole album comes together beautifully, with a great aggressive atmosphere, amazing riffs, solid rhythm section, and a soaring vocalist. Whatever genre you call it, speed metal, power metal, or thrash metal, this album is easily one of the best of any of those genres. If you are a fan of any of those genres owe it to themselves to pick this album up.
-Great guitar parts
-Solid rhythm section
-Ummm…vocals may not be to everyone’s taste (I’m really just nitpicking here)
The Day at Guyana