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Virus - The Agent That Shapes The Desert CD (album) cover

THE AGENT THAT SHAPES THE DESERT

Virus

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.81 | 25 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "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 bandīs 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 wonīt catch on your first listen. "The Agent That Shapes the Desert" continues the high quality that Iīve come to expect from Virus and while I still feel the album hasnīt completely clicked with me yet and has the potential of growing even more on me over time, Iīll risk my neck and give out a 4 star rating. Itīs not everyday you come across an act as unique sounding as Virus and succesful innovation and experimentation is always something Iīm prepared to honour.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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