The Agent That Shapes the Desert
VIRUS

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VIRUS - The Agent That Shapes the Desert cover
3.76 | 8 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Avant-garde Metal

Tracklist

1. The Agent That Shapes The Desert (5:18)
2. Continental Drift (4:43)
3. Chromium Sun (4:20)
4. Red Desert Sand (4:54)
5. Intermission: Furnace Creek (2:20)
6. Dead Cities Of Syria (6:42)
7. Where The Flame Resides (4:50)
8. Parched Rapids (4:53)
9. Call Of The Tuskers (5:12)

Total Time: 43:12

Line-up/Musicians

- Czral / vocals, guitars
- Einz / drums
- Bjeima / session bass

About this release

CD, released date February 14th 2011, Virulent Music/ Duplicate Records.

Available as Digipack CD, LP, and fan Package (ltd. 250 copies). The limited fan package includes a CD, a signed & handnumbered LP, a T-SHIRT and an exclusive 7”EP.

The album is distributed worldwide by Indie Distribution.

Thanks to UMUR for the addition

VIRUS MP3, Free Download/Stream

No VIRUS MP3s available for streaming.

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VIRUS THE AGENT THAT SHAPES THE DESERT reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Conor Fynes
'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' - Virus (7/10)

From a country known for its relatively wintery landscapes like Norway, I would not have expected to hear an overtly desert-rock styled album, as I do with avant-garde rockers Virus and their third full length. From the ashes of legendary avant-metal act Ved Buens Ende came Virus, a band that has often been met with conflicting genre labels and categorizations, and all to their credit; they do bear a strikingly unique sound to them. 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' starts 2011 on quite a good note for these talented musicians, and while I cannot say that the magic of this album is all too suited to my tastes, I have no trouble seeing why fans of metal and avant-garde music alike are swooning over the record.

From a personal perspective, I see the music on Virus' 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' as being some sort of eccentric cross between fellow Norwegians Arcturus, and the latter-era Americana of drone pioneers Earth. Contrary to the 'metal' label that this band and album has been receiving alot, the sound is instead more rooted in a sort of jazz-inspired desert rock, full with dissonant riffing, strange song structures and odd time signatures to hold up the rear. Instrumentally, I must say that the music is incredible at painting some quirky imagery of a post-apocalyptic desert, complete with tumbleweed and wind-bitten cow skulls.

Where the sound of Virus starts to go wrong with me are primarily to do with the vocals of Czral. Feeling far too highly mixed in terms of volume, Czral's somewhat operatic croon really tends to grind against the sound of the album, feeling cheesy and even campy at times. Although I will admit that the voice does grow with each listen, the mixing issue remains an issue. Also, while melody is obviously not a big concern with alot of avant-garde music, Virus' fairly concise and riff-based music songwriting could have done with some hooks to add a more engaging quality to the music.

An excellent album on an instrumental level, although I still am not yet convinced by the vocal work even after several experiences with it. 'The Agent That Shapes The Desert' will be sure to be an album that sticks around for quite a while on playlists, and while the desert rock style here doesn't much mesh with my personal tastes, I can certainly see this as certainly being one of the more unique albums to come out in 2011.
UMUR
"The Agent That Shapes the Desert" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde rock/ metal act Virus. The album was co-released in February 2011 by Virulent Music/ Dublicate Records.

During the recording of the album Virus parted ways with Season of Mist and had to resort to alternative funding to complete the album. Therefore Virus announced on the Dublicate Records homepage that they encouraged fans to pre-order "The Agent That Shapes the Desert", in order for the band to be able to finish and release the album. So "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" is one of those albums that was forged with blood, sweat and tears (and with help from the dedicated fans). Not only did the band co-release the album on their own label Virulent Music, they are also responsible for paying for additional studio time, mastering, printing and promoting the album.

The music on the album continues the dark, twisted and bleak rock/ metal style that Virus have become known for. The vocals are bleak, monotone and desperate sounding, the guitar riffs are dissonant, twisted and open strings and chords are often used. The drums are laid back and cool and session bassist Bjeima plays some rather intriguing basslines. Take a listen to the bassline in the opening title track for an example of that.

As usual though there are enough twists and turns and unique sounding ideas to tell the album apart from the band´s previous releases. First of all the production is very different from the bass heavy and dark production on "The Black Flux (2008)". The sound is lighter and the guitar has a distinct thin sound. Not thin in a negative sense, but the sound is purposely not very distorted or heavy. The compositions themselves also deviate some. So while the band definitely have what I would characterize as a core sound, they are not afraid to try new things. The rather progressive "Dead Cities Of Syria" and "Chromium Sun", the latter which features a semi-disco beat, are examples of songs where Virus incorporate new features into their core sound. The way Czral delivers his vocals in the title track is also a new element. An element I hope the band will explore further on subsequent releases. If the band were to start using more varied vocal styles, their releases could be even greater IMO. Speaking of varied vocal styles the closing track "Call Of The Tuskers" features a guest vocal performance by Garm (Ulver), which is never a bad thing.

As with the two predecessors "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" is an album that takes time to sink in and appreciate. Even though the music is mostly based on simple rock instrumentation of guitar, bass and drums ( there are also a few keyboard parts as far as I can hear), there are lots of details in the music that you probably won´t catch on your first listen. "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" continues the high quality that I´ve come to expect from Virus and while I still feel the album hasn´t completely clicked with me yet and has the potential of growing even more on me over time, I´ll risk my neck and give out a 4 star rating. It´s not everyday you come across an act as unique sounding as Virus and succesful innovation and experimentation is always something I´m prepared to honour.

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