Agent Fresco - 'Destrier'
We don’t proactively request advance copies of New Releases at Nordic Music Review, and actually I prefer it that way. Yes it sometimes makes us 2 or 3 weeks behind other Websites and Blogs when we finally get to post something, but being able to listen to a new release on the day everyone else gets to hear it is, seems to make it all a bit more special, and after all, we’re just music fans the same as everyone else. I love the sense of anticipation on the release day of a really good album, and the new release by Agent Fresco, ‘Destrier’, 2 weeks ago, is a great example. The excellent reviews it had received around its release date simply added to the expectancy and excitement.
Even then there is always the danger of being disappointed, but that was never in doubt straight from the opening of the Icelandic outfits new release. It is utterly blistering, brilliant and at times completely beautiful too. Arnór Dan Arnarsons distinctive vocals somehow combine well with the heavy math rock rhythms to create a sound which is unique and transfixing, and there are huge tunes to be enjoyed and engrossed in. Its also a monster, at 14 tracks, although it never feels like its pompously overblown, and with such a variety of tracks and track lengths, there are surprises at every corner.
There are some obvious highlights. The early pre-album release ‘Dark Water’ is a devastatingly powerful track, which has remained one of my most played and favourite tracks in the last 12 months, with a huge guitar riff, great vocal melody and a brilliant piano link in the middle which could have come straight from a Rachmaninov Piano Concerto. And its this rich fusion of different sounds that makes the album so interesting. ‘See Hell’ is such a good instant example of Agent Fresco at their best, a more conventional guitar opening, layered on with clever synths and drums, and a massive chorus, but always with those vocals, so powerful and natural, yet understated too – you’ll never feel you’re being shouted at.
With those tracks already released earlier on, it been a pleasure to get to know some different style of songs, ‘Pyre’ has a real sensitivity to it, whilst the title track ‘Destrier’ launches into a brutal section with explosive sounds akin to Major Parkinsons ‘Heart Machine’ - a band with similarities because of their ability to fuse different metal / progressive elements to produce something very distinct. And I don’t think it gets much better than ‘Howls’ either, brutal guitar rhythms mixed with melodic vocals, it is compelling listening.
Agent Fresco have produced an album which somehow feels like music making on an Industrial scale, whilst retaining the individualism and personal touch of a hand crafted birthday card. The complexity of the tracks does mean that its likely to take you a few listens before you really appreciate and enjoy it, especially in more progressive influenced tracks such as ‘The Autumn Red’, but this is worth sticking with. Agent Frescos ‘Destrier’ is simply a staggeringly impressive album, with enough to keep you interested for months and months, and I recommend everyone should take a listen for themselves.
Nordic Music Review 9/10
Agent Fresco are coming to the UK, which is great news, and the dates theyre playing are as follows - hopefully we're going to travel across the M62 to Leeds to see them for ourselves:
Nov 22 Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds,
Nov 23 Ivory Blacks, Glasgow
Nov 24 Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
Nov 25 Dingwalls, London