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Hailing from Simi Valley, the five piece power punks known as Strung Out are back with their 8th (I don’t care what anyone says, Element Of Sonic Defiance was as good as a full length to me) studio album “Agents of the Underground”. For those of you who don’t know this band these guys have been rocking out since the early 90’s with their punk/metal fusion and are still going strong. The new album has a less political tone to it than the previous album and is very reminiscent of “Twisted by Design” and “American Paradox” with a bit more flare on the metal side.
“Agents Of The Underground” starts off with the track “Black Crosses” and right from the beginning of the eerie guitar intro you know this track is going to blow your socks off. The pace picks up and blisters into a mini metal break down before Jason screams the words “We are the lonely ones” and the song goes back into the chorus with notably more powerful guitar riffs. Having set the bar high with “Black Crosses” the album continues with “Carcrashradio” a slower and more melodic song that will have you singing along in no time. “The Fever and the Sound” is the third track and continues the pace with fast, heavy guitars and a sick guitar solo/build up towards the end of the track that will remind you just who it is you’re listening to. “Heart Attack” is up next which reminds me a lot of the song “Mission Statement” from “Blackhawks Over Los Angeles”.
The album takes a noticeably darker turn with the track “Vanity” where Cruz’ lyrical genius really shines. “Ghetto Heater” washes away the darkness from “Vanity” with a song that I like to compare to “Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues” track “Gearbox” which is one of my all-time Strung Out favorites. The title track “Agents of the Underground” is an anger filled track that brings back some of the intensity and screaming that was missing on “BOLA”. “Nation of Thieves” is another song that makes you think about the state of the country and kind of ties into the song “In Harms Way” off “Another Day in Paradise”.
“Jack Knife” is another intense, blistering song with amazing guitars and a great mini solo towards the end. “Dead Spaces” is probably my favorite song on the album, starting off with guitars and drums that will have you head banging no matter what you’re doing. The song builds up intensity during a break down about 2 thirds of the way through the song then goes into one of the sickest guitar solos and unfortunately the only real solo on this album. The album ends with the track “Andy Warhol” which really defines how far Strung Out has come over the years, great lyrics, backing vocals and instrumentals are just a really perfect way to close it out.
All in all this album ranks up there with the best of Strung Out and I highly recommend picking it up whether your a Strung Out fan or not. I was disappointed by the lack of guitar solos on the album because that is one of the things I love about them but it still doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyable experience I have while listening to this album. They’ve come a long way since “Another Day In Paradise” and this album shows that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon either.