Agent Steel The Unstoppable Force
Agent Steel 'The Unstoppable Force' (Music For Nations 1986)
'The Unstoppable Force' was the opening track on 'Speed Kills 3 - A Catalogue of Destruction' and it is a catchy speed metal stormer that has stuck in my head since 1987. The Speed Kills compilations were an excellent budget gateway to the many thrash and death releases put out by Music for Nations and their subsidiary Under one Flag. Volume three had bona fide previously unheard, at least to me, classics from Agent Steel, Death, Possessed, Bathory, Death, Death Angel, Onslaught and Sacrilege. I was delighted upon purchase to be assaulted by so many varied and brutal tracks; even the thrash tracks were more extreme than Anthrax and Metallica, which was great.
In those days I had limited means to buy all the tapes/records that I wanted and had to wait until birthdays or Christmases to really bolter the collection. As a result Agent Steel records were not acquired until at least a decade later. The Mighty Gorgoroth was a major fan and I picked up a few from him, but I sourced 'The Unstoppable Force' at a second hand record shop some time before.
Although I only had one song by them, I kept up to date with what they were doing through the Friday night Rock Show, I had a friend with a live 1987 VHS of them at Hammersmith Odeon (which was apparently their last show before they reformed in 1999) and I read their interviews avidly. The lead singer, John Cyriss, was a great character who would talk about how he had been abducted by aliens and spoke at length about his belief in lost civilizations such as Atlantis. The metal press was a bit condescending towards him and his incredibly tightly curled barnet, but I thought he was fantastic. It was strange that I built up such an affinity with a band that I had no full recordings of, but I was an all-consuming metal nerd.
25 years of familiarity still makes the title track the stand out on this record. It's an aggressive opener with some excellent speedy musicianship, Cyriss' high pitched manic vocals and lyrics about the ancient civilizations of Earth being attacked by aliens. It's perfect - sci fi speed metal! The rest of the album is not quiet at the level of the opener, but is certainly worth checking out as this band were very unique twist on the less interesting, pedestrian thrash peddled by a lot of bands at the time. 'Indestructive' and 'Rager' ('Hammering Metal into your head!') are two further standouts; 'Chosen to Stay' and 'Traveler' (sic) are a little more dubious with their 'thrash ballad' stylings.
The band had connections with the far less impressive Abattoir, John sang and Juan Garcia played guitar for them briefly, and guitarist on their two previous releases, Kurt Kilfelt, went on to form Holy Terror, who we'll meet later on. James Murphy, of Death, Obituary, Cancer and Testament fame was also in the band briefly for their final tour pre split.
Definitely recommended, I think I'll try and catch them live before they inevitably split up again.
- Panasonic DMC-FZ18