Review Summary: Agents of Oblivion produced one of the best rock albums of the double-oughts, if one of the best in the last twenty years (or more).
From the tragic ashes of Acid Bath
rose a single album that was probably meant as a dedication, memorial, and methodology of mourning rather than a failed reformation. Agents of Oblivion
came and went with little fanfare, but their self-titled album is a powerful statement.
From the get-go, "Endsmouth" is a showcase of lo-fi, swampy surrounds, and drug-fueled performances. The music seems to slide off of the metronome arm, or follow the click track, as opposed to nailing it, giving the piece a mournful, regretful atmosphere. Dax Riggs
, frontman and soulful bastard he is, gives a chorus that could move mountains, with the sludgy, bluesy rock in tow, serving his every purpose.
Everything about this album feels as smoky, underproduced, and punk-rock-production cheap. You can almost tell the band didn't even bother changing the strings of the instruments they dusted off for recording this monster. Somehow they managed to capture lightning in a bottle, projecting the true feeling of sorrow and melancholy while somehow not even trying, like the spirit of the event was their puppet master, the music played out of their control, and a set of circumstances and performances that could never be duplicated, topped, or even accompanied by another album.
The distant and harrowing "Wither" is another amazing set of work, with its slow build and crystalline emotions intact. It's like watching a drug addict in his final throes of dependency and withdrawal... and suddenly he blurts out a phrase that changes your life.
Throughout the album, the thick and echoing sludge rock is tempered with a bit of blues, a bit of jazz, and the voice of New Orleans shines through in everything. Every smoky bar with an open mic night, every swamp, every street band, wrapped in a warm analog sound and played at the tempo of an uphill shamble, the songs here breathe and blossom into worlds of high-contrast and film grain. "Phantom Green" has a set of haunting lyrics that Dax
tends to slur and fumble a bit with, so look them up.
The mid-toned and woody timbre of Alex Sanchez
and Alex Bergeron
weeps buckets of lo-fidelity, tube crunch, and the guitar-bass tandem belt out wave after wave of killer riffs, slowly slung out like the lazy, arbitrary punches of an angry drunk half-within the grasp of sleep. The high-gain trash-can drum sounds of Jeff McCarty
simply further the feeling that this could have been the demo CD you left in the parking lot of the big summer concert last year. Even when the band pumps up the tempo ("Paroled in '54"), the general feeling is that of a hot summer afternoon spent with a bottle.
Agents of Oblivion
produced one of the best rock albums of the double-oughts, if one of the best in the last twenty years (or more). The vocals are absolutely amazing, the high point of an already talented frontman, and the music is no less spectacular. The swamp rock indulgences of this one-and-only album are as thick as the Louisiana bogs that spawned it, and contain within them the spirit of the haunted city and the ghost of their lost bandmate and friend, as well as the personal demons and torments the band members faced daily. Agents of Oblivion
is an original work encapsulating pure mood, emotion, and inspiration, and is something you need to hear.