With all the talk about UFO’s and Aliens in the news lately with Congressional hearings and former military personnel coming forward, I thought it was the time to take a look at a band who was based around the whole concept AGENT STEEL.
AGENT STEEL are officially part of the MEGADETH story as lead singer John Cyriis was one of the singers who auditioned for them before Dave Mustaine eventually just sang himself. There are claims he was “fired” so he must have been in longer than an actual audition.
Cyriis has a crazy high-pitched vocal range that’s in that same group with Lizzy Borden and Midnight of Crimson Glory. Personally I love the high-pitched stuff but for others it’s a more acquired taste.
AGENT STEEL is also known for having Juan Garcia in the band, who would later be in BODY COUNT, EVILDEAD AND ABATTOIR. Garcia became a well-respected player in the industry.
The first album “Skeptics Apocalypse” was very science fiction based as the band gained a strong cult following thanks to their lyrical content and subject matter. Musically it was very fast, an early version of Speed and Thrash Metal.
The main problem with “Skeptics Apocalypse” is in the production, which I doubt anyone can really deny is an issue. It’s almost a demo quality, which I’m sure had to do with budget. And looking back it essentially was a demo of sorts as many first album are.
There’s some blistering solos and technical playing underneath the muddy recording. You can hear the talent, but it’s frustrating you can’t hear it better. It’s still considered an early influence on Metal and despite it’s rough production, many consider it a classic.
AGENT STEEL has already gained a cult following in the mid-80’s thanks to their promising first album in 1985 “Skeptics Apocalypse”. In 1986 they did an EP called “Mad Locust Rising” and in 1987 they returned to the studio again for Combat Records and recorded “Unstoppable Force”.
The production on the album is better, still not great but it makes for a more listenable record. They deserve better as guitarist Juan Garcia is phenomenal and singer John Cyriis is very underrated. His high-pitched style on this one reminds one of Geoff Tate of Queensryche and Rob Halford combined. His power is really impressive.
The songs in my opinion are better constructed too, the choruses are better defined, there’s more gang vocals and it’s overall a more “accessible” album. There’s slower moments like “Chosen To Stay” and mid-tempo moments too such as “Still Searchin’”. “Rager” was a very Priest influenced strait up Metal track. Songs like this ultimately help show the band’s diversity and talent.
Mainstream success eluded the band as they were more of a niche band with their subject matter and Cyriis’ unique vocal style. They had more respect from their fellow musicians and the underground scene as they left a big impression on the Metal scene.
AGENT STEEL may not have achieve the level of success of other bands from that era, but that doesn’t mean they were an important part of the equation. They were innovators of Speed, Trash and Progressive Metal that would have an influence even to current times.
Possibly the coolest band photo ever btw, can you imagine a band doing this now? Ha ha