AGENT STEEL formed in 1984 and is one of those quality heavy metal acts that always seemed to get lost in the shuffle. After a dozen year absence, the band returned with a vengeance in 1999, releasing the excellent "The Omega Conspiracy" and following it up in 2003 with the equally powerful "Order of the Illuminati", fans have had to wait a while again, but "Alienigma" is worth it. The group's mix of blistering power thrash and traditional metal continues to impress.
First and foremost, "Alienigma" is a damn heavy album; thanks in large part to the super star guitar tandem of Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles. The duo's riffs are dangerously sharp and the solos are gloriously shredding. Combined with Bruce Hall's classic Tate/Dane (albeit edgier) delivery, and the tough 'n tight rhythm section of drummer Rigo Amezcua and bassist Karlos Medina, there is no dearth of metallic firepower on "Alienigma". Bill Metoyer's engineering and mixing job gives the guitars a lot of bite and the drums a thunderous sound.
As with anything else though, it is the songwriting that makes or breaks an album, no matter how talented the players. Mean riffs sit side by side with tuneful choruses on the quick paced "Fashioned from Dust" and "Liberty Lying Bleeding", the latter featuring one of several immediately memorable lines on the disc: "We watched as they raped our liberty!" "Wash this Planet Clean" is equally compelling with Hall's shout of "If there's a God, why do we need your protection?" A MAIDEN-esque melody makes it way into "Wormwood", while songs like "Extinct" and "Lamb to the Slaughter" go for an unrelentingly pummeling approach.
Overall, "Alienigma" may not match the greatness of the two previous albums, but it comes damn close. Let's hope for a North American release because it would be a damn shame if the album were to go unnoticed on these shores. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time that Americans ignored an album and went for trendier fare. Regardless, "Alienigma" is another worthy AGENT STEEL release.