Agents of Oblivion

Agents of Oblivion

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The first and only album by Louisiana's Agents of Oblivion is a distinct departure from the music of Acid Bath, the previous band of songwriters Dax Riggs and Mike Sanchez, though it does shed some light on that band's unique collision of styles. While fellow Acid Bath member Sammy Duet went on to pound out grinding black metal with Goatwhore, Riggs and Sanchez put together a band more concerned with melody and straightforward rock songwriting. There are strong echoes of T. Rex (whose "Cosmic Dancer" they cover here) and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie in the soaring, melancholic grandeur of slower tracks such as "Phantom Green," "Endsmouth," and "Big Black Backwards." Meanwhile, the hard rock numbers, notably "Slave Riot" and "Ash of the Mind," recall Iggy Pop and, again, T. Rex, though the heavy drums and thickly distorted guitars have a density more in line with the grungy metal of the Melvins or early Alice in Chains. The lyrics, though, are purely Riggs' work: vivid, desolate, and filled with image-laden references to insects, death, and decaying skulls that avoid sounding trite or adolescent, as they might have in lesser hands. His sorrowful, crooning vocals, too, are really superb, perhaps influenced by Bowie and Jim Morrison but still quite distinct. In the end, Agents of Oblivion may not be the most groundbreaking record to come out in 2000, but it is still a fine piece of desolate, melancholy hard rock that, rather than simply recasting its '70s rock influences, invests them with real personality and creativity.

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