"Lethal Agenda"


01. Lethal Agenda
02. Hammer
03. Already Dead
04. Doesn't Matter
05. Hate Machine
06. Isabel
07. Beating the Man
08. Built to Last
09. Interlude
10. Art of War

RATING: 5.5/10

Don't snicker too much at the name. I'm surprised nobody has come up with TEMPLE OF BRUTALITY yet (maybe they have). Another group of veteran rockers, the band includes bassist Dave Ellefson (ex-MEGADETH, F5), drummer Stet Howland (ex-W.A.S.P.), guitarist Peter Scheithauer (BELLADONNA, KILLING MACHINE), and vocalist Todd Barnes (13-A). "Lethal Agenda" has its moments, but suffers from Barnes' phlegm-soaked vocals, even though the boys thrash hard in true American metal fashion and have written several balls-out slammers.

On the upside, songs like the title track and "Hammer" hit viciously with Scheithauer's strong riffs and Howland's teeth-rattling drumming (including some wicked fills). A couple of tunes sport familiar, yet effective, riffs, including the DANZIG-like one on "Already Dead" and the PANTERA-esque "Doesn't Matter". The problem is that as much heart as Barnes puts into the effort, his delivery is often annoying and the patterns don't often work particularly well. The sound mix is purposely raw and live sounding, which on the one hand delivers in an honest, no-frills manner, but is almost too bare bones for its own good. Although most of the tunes are relatively memorable, a couple are downright corny, namely "Isabel" and "Beating the Man".

"Lethal Agenda" is one of those albums on which the negatives water down the plusses. That's a shame because I find myself enjoying a good bit of what is going on here, but always end up wishing the kinks had been worked out. The no-bullshit delivery is still refreshing though. Take out the vocals, and the rating increases significantly. In a nutshell, "Lethal Agenda" is a mixed bag that falls a little short of its potential.


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