AGENTS OF MAN
"Count Your Blessings"

(Century Media)

01. Death of Me
02. No Tomorrow
03. Blood Money
04. Repercussion
05. Without a Trace
06. Can't Run
07. Count Your Blessings
08. Truth You Hide
09. Murder
10. Be My Savior
11. Consequence
12. Headless

RATING: 5/10

Metalcore galore from this collection of New Jersey scene veterans. Singing choruses, shouted verses, big riffs, the works — it's gonna be really hard for AGENTS OF MAN to differentiate themselves from the crowd in 2005. One thing they have going in their favor is a slightly more hardcore edge, an east-coast toughness most evident on songs like "Repercussion". Here, the hollered gang vocals give the track a menacing edge and a streetwise sound missing from most bands of their ilk. Hell, the beginning of "No Tomorrow" sounds like a missing MERAUDER track!

But then the bleating, pleading, multitracked chorus kicks in, and you're right back into poor man's KILLSWITCH ENGAGE territory. And there you stay, at least until track six, where the band shifts into a much more melodic, radio-friendly territory. "Can't Run" isn't a bad tune, but it lacks even the little bit of identity that the more hardcore-inflected numbers ("Repercussions", "Count Your Blessings") possess.

This is some seriously also-ran shit, a band apparently signed on the strength of their ex-bassist having been in SWORN ENEMY, and a harbinger of doom to come for the glutted market. There's nothing really wrong with AGENTS OF MAN, but there's also very little reason to plunk down fourteen bucks for the privilege of hearing more of the same old shit. The band obviously has talent, and the building blocks are there for them to be serious contenders — but they're going to have to get more interesting, and fast, or wind up a footnote at the tail end of this scene's popularity.

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