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Agents of Oblivion | review | metal | Lollipop

Agents of Oblivion

by Scott Hefflon

Agents of Oblivion are the rebirth/180-degree-turn for Acid Bath members after the death of bassist Audie Pitre in a car accident with his parents caused by a drunk driver. While many fans of the screamathon of Acid Bath may arch an eyebrow at Agents of Oblivion's sauntering dirge rock, anyone who found themselves drawn again and again like moths to a flame to Paegan Terrorism Tactic's acoustic closer, "Dead Girl," will get it. Track four on this 60-minute debut is a "rocked out" version of the same, and while the trippy delay and stonerized riffs update the almost grungey original, there was an accidental purity about it the first time which is lost in the doom stomp. But such an emotional song with such poetically bleak lyrics as "When Death sleeps, He dreams of you," "She smiles like a ghost, like zombies eating dust in Mexico," and the fishhook "I've been dryin' in a dead age, I've been reeking of the new plague, the sound of the ocean is dead, it's just the echo of the blood in your head," ya just gotta go with it. Not since The Cult had cred has a line like "Sister burn the temple, and stand beneath the moon" been uttered with such sincerity. So while I'm kind of against constricting the song with thick grooves and wailing riffs, the majestic, anthemic ending makes it all worthwhile. I see teens parked in their middle of nowhere hometowns blasting this against the ever-present nothingness with their arms outstretched like Christ, smiling tragically at the ineffectiveness of the tiny pinpoints of light that are humanity's contribution to this planet, reveling in the smooth sounds of such sweet doom prophecy... And it doesn't hurt that the minor-to-major shift and dramatic howling at the end are similar to what Mr. Cornell did with Soundgarden in the "dirty years." Fuckin' magical.

A lot of Agents of Oblivion's appeal is based on lyrics which are either nonsense or make so much sense, your brain refuses to register their meaning, dig? Whoever said your brain was on your side? So while lyricist/vocalist Dax Riggs has a thing for ladybugs and butterflies and stuff, it's certainly better than hearing yet another metal band telling us to push it, pull it, reject it, stomp on it, or whatever most if them yell about in their songs cribbed from high school notebooks. Empty slogans of an angry, directionless generation... While not every tattooed'n'pierced meathead with silly hair should suddenly wax poetic like Dax or Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf, it sure breaks up the monotonous drivel. Another few names to drop before moving on would be an untrained Rob Halford, maybe some slow, hopeless Alice in Chains (just in vibe, no harmonies here), and -- bear with me here -- perhaps a little Mother Love Bone. Beneath the chemically-inspired heavy rock and morbid fixations there's a bit of tinkering, unafraid to throw in a piano flitter or some gently sawing strings or a simply strummed acoustic allude to strings...

And one last thought I have the lack of judgment to share... One night, I was hopelessly shitfaced, staring ahead into the dark room, trying to figure out what it is that I'm really doing with my time on Earth and if it couldn't be better spent, ya know, not being shitfaced and angry all the time, wondering what went wrong with me and the rest of the human race and why we're called a race at all when we're just a spiritually-retarded bunch of apes with expensive toys and instantaneous ways to communicate what little we really have to say when song nine, "Wither," crept through my hazy consciousness. In my receptive state, the song oozed around me, hugging me with its trippy, echoing longing, "we wither" sounding much like "we without" and something about "one thing is certain." And it didn't matter what was certain, just that somewhere, one thing was. And I had a vision, like something out of a movie, something that TV special Secret Cutting or whatever would never dare show... A sensitive young girl slices open her arms as moth wings beat against paned glass, and as the blood drips down fingertips onto the linoleum like sprinkling sprinkles onto an ice cream cone in a happy childhood memory, time elongates and walls give way to a dark, opulent ballroom... And Death, an unintimidating guide to a less selfish and mean place, offers his hand courteously and she takes it. As a symphony quietly pays respects and the phrase "we wither"/"we without" repeats, they float through the air amidst sturdy columns and rich, thick curtains and draperies heavy with time and soaked in wisdom and sorrow... Much like the dreamy dance scene in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen with lovely Uma, Death treats our doomed sister with the love she never received in life, the perfect gentleman, and escorts her out of this mortal coil.
(PO Box 2157 Montclair, CA 91763)


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