Review Summary: As proggy death/thrash goes, this is one relative unknown that can dish out some punishment.
France isn't very well known for its Metal. Until Gojira came along, there were so few notable French metal bands that it was practically dead in the genre, with only Sortilege
(only notable for being Chuck Schuldiner's favorite NWOBHM band) and Trust
(for one of their songs becoming a popular Anthrax cover) being notable rock and metal bands in the country. However, towards the late 80s, France grew a larger fanbase in the particular area of music, due to significant success abroad in the thrash and death metal scene; one product of this newer league of French metal bands were [b]Agressor[b], who's vocalist/guitarist Alex Colin-Tocquaine has been the only constant member, and has been one of the most odd metal acts in the world. In addition, his solos have a crazed feeling vaguely similar to Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel.
The strange sci-fi cover art is a perfect representation of this album. Raw, but complex and musical arrangements with touches of prog are abound here, and hints of Voivod and Pestilence are evident in the mix. Alex's guitar work is constantly aggressive and varies between complex tremolo picked riffs and fast palm muted passages, while the bass is often performing underlying lines to freshen areas of the songs, while the drums vary often in pattern. Musically, there isn't a sense of huge proficiency in each instrument, but it's overall pretty tight as well as varied. Vocally, Alex is rather mid ranged, doing a fairly guttural growl with a slightly higher pitch than most.
The album kicks off with Primeval Transubastantation
, which starts off at a fairly slow pace, before then blasting through a complex series of riffs mid song, before moving to a slower pace towards the end. The progressive influence isn't most evident, but a series of technical riffs keeps you very much interested. The Fortress
follows, and starts with another fairly complex riff, but uses Cynic-style electronic vocals during the chorus, being the first truly evident demonstration of the experimentation of the album, as well as a much higher tempo. Similar strong tracks follow, such as Antediluvian
, most of which relying on the same moderately complex riffing and high tempo song structure. Other notable tracks include The Crypt
for its starting bass riffs, which are high in the mix, before the familiar high speed riffing returns.
Future Past / Eldest Things
is no doubt the centerpiece of the album, with an acoustic opening, keyboard parts and a slow and powerful guitar part dominating the entire song, with moderate tempo double bass drumming being featured, with a series of riffs being featured alongside the impressive basswork, as well as a series of guitar solos and an overall epic sound, securely presenting it as the best track of the entire album.
Overall, if you're looking for a death metal album that sounds almost entirely like nothing else, you've got it with this particular hidden gem. If you like complex thrash structure, mixed with death metal riffs, impressive bass playing and experimental themes, this is for you.
Future Past / Eldest Things