Agent Steel
No Other Godz Before Me

For the newcomers out there Agent Steel are a speed metal band, from California and have gone on hiatuses several times in their close to 40 year existence.  Their 1985 debut Skeptics Apocalypse is still my favorite release by the band and their follow-up Unstoppable Force was also a personal favorite and still their best-selling album.  John Cyriis was the singer on both these classics as well as the Mad Locust Rising ep.  There are a lot of rumors etc about this dude.  But basically he relocated to Florida, back in the day, and the band refused to follow him to Florida. John was replaced and the band went on to release 3 other real kick-ass speed metal albums.  John is also a firm believer in extra-terrestrial life and I’ve always enjoyed his prior lyrics.

Fast forward years later and John Cyriis’ Agent Steel was born and then the moniker went back to the original name Agent Steel.  This is an album which was supposed to be released a while ago, but for the last several years there were an ever-revolving door of musicians and then some festival footage showing the band in action and John, well…seemingly unprepared live…and then jokes in the scene were never-ending.  Non-of the prior Agent Steel members are on this so I was skeptical going in with this album and make no mistake I loved John Cyriis’ vocals on the Agent Steel material he was on in the 80’s.  He had a very unique voice and some of the high registers he would nail was remarkable.  There is a reason why I have an Agent Steel patch on one of my battle jackets folks!

No Other Godz Before Me is the sixth Agent Steel album and first with John returning on vocals with a whole new band.  Shuichi Oni on bass, Rasmus Kjær on drums and guitars by: Nikolay Atanasov and Vinicius Carvalho.  Other than John, the rest of the band reside in countries other than the USA.  11 songs, 2 of which are an intro and outro, combining for 40 minutes of new material.  After the interesting “Passage to Afron-V” intro with spoken words and excellent guitar melodies “Crypts of Galactic Damnation” starts with an awesome riff and drum part which calls to mind the John Cyriis era Agent Steel yore of the 80’s.  Excellent speed metal and these musicians definitely studied Agent Steel’s early sound.

This is spot on and hearing John singing is amazing.  His original and wild vocals are back.  The chorus is very catchy and some excellent melodic guitar soloing gets underway.  However; do you remember the old saying, sometimes less is more?  Well John is intent on hitting these certain high registers, even higher than back in the day, when he was younger, and well…it comes across as cringe-induced.  Granted some of his registers are still impressive, but the super high ones he decides to do come across as well, chop King Diamond’s nuts off, add a tone of autotune and once the next song “No Other Godz” comes in you’ll hear what I mean.  It’s fucking painful – I mean listening with headphones, it’s ear piercing and actually hurt my ears.  When John goes into his other tones, his mid-range is excellent and it’s him 110%.  The music on this track is excellent speed metal, excellent solos and monstrous sounding drums.  “Trespassers” is really catchy with the mid-paced riffing and excellent guitar solos.  John’s mid-range vocals and some of his high aria type singing works on this particular song, but he still throws in those screeching wayyyYYYYyyyy over-the-top highs…oofa.

“Outer Space Connection” is the last song, before the outro ties everything together.  The song starts fast and furious and John’s vocals are sounding excellent.  Aggressive with his unique flair, but then those overextending high moments come in and I’m like nooooooo.  Then John settles back down into his awesome regular style.

The album cover of No Other Godz Before Me has me thinking it’s supposed to be UFO lights, but they look more like the high beams blasted from a Ford F-150, but still it looks ok, is eye-catching, goes along with the sci-fy continued themes and has a big 80’s vibe.  The musical production is great and the classic Agent Steel 80’s speed metal sound is incredible. What gets in the way are those high vocals from John.  There was no less is more approach going into this one, obviously.  I cannot understand why the band would not have mentioned, “hey John, maybe some more of those mid-range parts, buddy and bring those octaves down a few notches”.  When John does his classic voice and some of the highs, yes it’s vintage Cyriis and he sounds wild and great. However; the bizarre decision to use this newer and very high octave is way too splattered all over the album.

Minus those moments and we have a solid 8.5 of a classic sounding Agent Steel album.  But it’s more of a 6.5, since I cannot go in and cut some of those vocals out.  Overall I will go back to this album a bunch, since the classic sound is evident, but it’s just not as enjoyable, as it could and should be.  The Skeptics Apocalypse and Unstoppable Force influence on No Other Godz Before Me are memorable, exciting yet modern.  If the line-up can stay intact and John can quit those screeching, high on helium vocals, the next album will be a much more enjoyable listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
May 10th, 2021

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