Agents of Power is the third full-length album by US heavy/speed metal act Skelator. The album was released in 2012. Agents of Power notably features a twelve part suite of songs entitled Elric: The Dragon Prince (A Tale of Tragic Destiny in 12 Parts), based on the work of British fantasy/science fiction author Michael Moorcock.
There’s definitely something of a cheesy factor about Skelator that is pretty evident right from the off, even before you’ve heard them with a name like that I guess. However, when you’re making heavy metal of the epic kind that Skelator does you can not only get away with it, but it’s also what makes the music just that extra bit special. Agents of Power feels so unashamed of its cheese factor that it revels in it. Agents of Power, I would go as far to say, is one of the most epic traditional heavy metal albums of the year, not to mention, one of the best.
Of course, traditional heavy metal is not the only aspect of Skelator’s sound. We also have a good portion of speed metal on offer, which spices up the music with, as obvious as it is to say it, speedier and more intense sections compared to the more melodic traditional metal. The band proves equally capable at both styles. The high pitched vocals of Jason Conde-Houston may not, I guess, be for everyone but for me they only add to the overall charm of the epic nature of the band’s take on fantasy inspired heavy metal.
And about that fantasy inspiration, the Elric: The Dragon Prince (A Tale of Tragic Destiny in 12 Parts) suite may just be one of the most adventurous things I’ve heard out of a metal album (that at least wasn’t a progressive or avant-garde metal album) all year. Merging that traditional and speed metal riff attack with non-metal sections, spoken words and instrumental passages, which includes great guitar leads and melodies, into the twelve sections, the suite is easily the album’s crowning achievement. Although presented as twelve tracks it’s essentially one long epic song that lasts for about thirty-eight minutes. With this, it’s actually easy for forget that the album has four shorter and more direct songs to offer at the start of the album, but they are really just as good and epic as the suite and shouldn’t be overlooked by any means.
I hadn’t heard Skelator’s music prior to this release and now having experienced Agents of Power the only conclusion I can draw is that was to my great loss, and I recommend that anyone in the same boat as I was quickly rectify the situation, as Skelator is a band that are clearly masters of their craft and an exceptional grade rating is deserved for Agents of Power.
(originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))