Agent Fresco
Destrier


3.5
great

Review

by ComeToDaddy USER (48 Reviews)
August 14th, 2015 | 82 replies


Release Date: 08/07/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Reaching for the sky, and ending up in space.

Agent Fresco were on top of the world in 2010. They formed just weeks out from the Icelandic equivalent of ‘The Battle of the Bands’ (Musiktilraunir) in 2008, deciding to compete more-or-less on a whim. And yet, masters of their respective crafts and songwriting, they came out on top, not only winning overall but also receiving “best of…” awards in each instrumental category. Over the next 2 years they would release an EP (Lightbulb Universe) and an LP (A Long Time Listening), with both receiving critical and commercial acclaim, as well as dressing their jackets with several awards from their home country. It’s hard not to be impressed by artists that can fearlessly blend piles of disparate influences together and still end up with works as coherent and engaging as the aforementioned LP. It was undoubtedly an exhausting listen, doubly so due to the morose lyrical content dealing with the death of vocalist Arnór Dan Arnarson’s father, but it was equal parts endearing thanks to the band’s irresistibly quirky demeanour.

But then, Agent Fresco slowed their pace, and all that momentum they built up over those two years fizzled away. 5 years is a long time off for a band thrown so abruptly into the spotlight, and as quickly as they emerged, they vanished again. During this interim, Arnór was viciously assaulted and hospitalized, producing bouts of both anxiety and uncontrollable anger that would ultimately be a large portion of the inspiration for Destrier. The result is an incredibly dynamic continuation of their previous album that, while occasionally unfocused, manages to double down on many of ALTL’s best traits and surprise listeners at every turn.

Destrier opens with a taunt. “You’ve waited 5 years, you can wait another minute, right"” Over a minute of feedback slowly builds up, eventually caving to a stately introduction that puts any of their past stabs at the dramatic to shame. It’s a bit much, even by their standards, and that excess would be a strike against them if it didn’t serve to build anticipation for the monster that is 'Dark Water'. This lead single and album highlight contains a myriad of styles handled in their past works, all mashed together into one incredibly dense piece. It skitters from flighty piano licks to aggressive syncopated riffing, with the signature angelic lead vocals tying it all together despite how abrupt several transitions are. It’s got all those characteristic traits the fans have come to love, crammed into one little fun-size package - far from simple, but it is a logical continuation of the trademark they’ve established.

They take this ethos of bigger-is-better into everything they do, meaning several key tracks follow a similar formula and lend strength to the album in the same manner. However, it acts both a blessing and a curse, with many of the small gaps in their formula growing more pronounced. Swapping between so many different styles can break the listener’s immersion at the best of times, but here it’s often downright jarring. The title track makes itself known with yet another soaring chorus, but falls flat on its face with an extremely uncomfortable attempt at being heavy. ‘Angst’ suffers the same fate, where the band aims for brutality, but ends up with a drummer bluntly bashing his head against his kit at a consistent pace for the most out-of-place 45 seconds you’ll find on the album. The band stated that anger was a major theme here, but they simply don’t incorporate it into their established sound effectively. Similarly, their bid to outdo themselves resulted in another loopable album. However, while ALTL opened and closed the curtains with an interesting piano melody, Destrier makes us suffer through another awkward minute of feedback to complete the Möbius strip. It's just too much - in the push for more drama and a more grandiose scale, it ends up overshooting the mark and effectively dissuades the listener from looping the album; the polar opposite of what was intended.

Despite these issues, Agent Fresco have written this album with a very steady hand. You’ll find motifs being revisited, varied lyricism and a huge range of song structures engage all sorts of listeners as the band careens along their absurd path. There’s plenty here to love, yet plenty to encourage naysayers as well – your enjoyment depends solely on what you want to get out of it. In the single week since the album came out, it’s already shot up to #1 on the Icelandic charts, so it seems Destrier has already accomplished what it set out to do. Sure, it may be too wacky and disjointed to pull in critics of their old works, but none of that matters if they can continue stealing the hearts of their fans.



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user ratings (171)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
ComeToDaddy
August 14th 2015


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Full album streaming here : https://show.co/uUScQw3

If you don't have time for that, Dark Water can be listened to on youtube right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VmNTl6JvDY



This album is a whole lot of fun, really enjoyed listening to it. These guys are super popular over in Iceland, but just haven't quite managed to seep out into mainstream music, wouldn't surprise me if this tipped them over. Shoutout to Arcade for proofing this for me.

killurselfmyman
August 14th 2015


28 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is so much different but so similar to a long time listening its weird

BrushedRed
August 14th 2015


3003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Amazing album. Might be my album of the year. The vocalist reminds me of a less bleak Maynard James Keenan at times, some dredg, and even a little Children of Nova. I do agree about Angst although the first half of it is awesome. My favorite is probably Bemoan

ComeToDaddy
August 14th 2015


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Brushed, it really is great, I burnt myself out looping it for this review though. I was floored on my first listen, by Bemoan and Dark Water in particular, though Tempo is still my fave of theirs.

Dylan620
August 14th 2015


4653 Comments


Karnivool and FTM in the recommended by reviewer section? I'm in

Digging: The Dear Hunter - The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)

Lord(e)Po)))ts
August 14th 2015


41691 Comments


that album art is so so bad

Digging: Edyth - Bare II

LunaticSoul
August 15th 2015


1153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

pots get out



nice rev, completely agree. prob bump to 4 as singles are too cool

Toondude10
August 15th 2015


13740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hmmmm, sounds like something I might like. Good review btw.



@Arcade, hand problems? What hand problems?

Toondude10
August 15th 2015


13740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

congrats on the feature, and yeah this is pretty solid.

CrazyDiamond7
August 15th 2015


260 Comments


Does that woman have a pizza on her face?

Gyromania
August 15th 2015


26603 Comments


only heard wait for me but i think it's really good

Evreaia
August 15th 2015


5081 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

as awesome as expected.

ComeToDaddy
August 15th 2015


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Lunatic, the singles definitely put the rest of this on their back. It's great they chose 3 fairly different songs, pretty much reflects the whole album.

@Toondude, 4 months ago I had surgery on my wrist and got a bunch of nerve damage. Haven't been able to review new releases because typing for long periods was painful, but I'm back now (: cheers for the feature request too buddy, really appreciate it.

Toondude10
August 15th 2015


13740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn that sucks, no wonder why you disappeared for a while. And your welcome ;-)

LunaticSoul
August 15th 2015


1153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah I feel the singles were better than anything over ALtL (aside from Eyes from a Cloud Catcher maybe) but the variety of the first disc makes it a more enjoyable experience than this when listened in its entirety.



I'd say also that they went overboard with the polyrhythmic shit, ok yeah dudes we got it you really love Euroblast and the djent scene but some parts are really 'too' much (eg. The Autumn Red).



Better than the last Leprous tho

killurselfmyman
August 15th 2015


28 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i have decided this fucking rocks

Toondude10
August 16th 2015


13740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Don't get the 5s. I mean it's great and all but is it really 5-worthy? Not really.

ComeToDaddy
August 16th 2015


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's definitely one of those albums that can "wow" you on first listen, and lots of people rate hyperbolically. That said, there is an unreasonable number of 5's there, my 3.5 came from someone who is a total sucker for this kind of music.

Toondude10
August 16th 2015


13740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fair enough. If anything the avg will drop down to at least a 3.6 if this gets a lot more ratings (at least that's my prediction)

BrushedRed
August 16th 2015


3003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I personally think this deserves a 4.5. I've seen some 1s (I'm assuming to lower the average) but it continues to rebound.



My guess is a final average of 3.8-3.9



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