Agent are a progressive band hailing from New-Zealand. Kingdom
of Fear is there second release, and in the long gap between the two albums,
the band reallocated itself to London and had to go through a couple of line-up
changes. The final result is a powerful prog album, which will leave any fan of
the genre in a nice groovy trance.
Very much like their Australian neighbours in Karnivool, the
band brings in an interesting mix of post-grunge rock sound and progressive
metal music. This is shown off in full grandeur in the opening tracks “Dark
Dreams” and “Collecting Stars”. The album takes a different direction, with the tracks “Made of Gold” and “Lunatic”, with pop-like chorus vocals and start-stop riffs. Although the variety is something to be appreciated, it’s at this point the weakness in this album starts coming to the fore, the track placement starts feeling a bit of a miss-hit.
But, something to be really appreciated on this album
overall, is how the bass and drums are brought to the fore front in the mix,
something not often done. This makes the songs sound really energetic and live.
The title track “Kingdom of Fear”
showcases the amazing skill-set of Matt Flower on the bass and Jordan Tredray
on the drum kit perfectly. The track in a way reminds the listener of the
classic Tool sound (and that is not a bad thing!).
One of the best track on the album comes in “Like You Never
Left”. The music is totally stripped down, with a solo guitar melody playing in
the background with ghostly vocals from James Donaldson. The track stands out
on the album and defines a completely original ‘Agent’ sound.
The album ends on a high note, with “Vultures”. Another
track with slightly pop-ish vocals, but the slap bass start has you in the
groove, well before the vocals and the jagged riffs hit you. The fluid chorus
give the album a perfect finish.
The weakness of the album, is that it starts to feel
slightly stretched, after a few initial spins. The album consists of 13 tracks
(with 9 actual full length tracks), this was expected with the band having 6
years to come up with new music. Sadly the variation through the album is a bit
of a hit and miss, leaving the songs to be enjoyed in isolation rather than as
a complete album.
Make no mistake, the album and the band is brimming with
ideas and creativity throughout. The production is top notch, with each
instrument clearly audible. The emphasis on the drums and bass, pays off with
some real top notch quality music coming to the forefront. Just more compact
and well planned album will payoff for the band in the future.
Overall, Kingdom of Fear is a strong album from the band,
showcasing the talent they possess. The band has crafted their own identity,
and are bound to rise higher in the progressive music scene. An entertaining
album, and a must listen for fans of Progressive Metal/Rock and bands like
Karnivool and Tool.