Released: 2012, Metal On Metal Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Skelator is a five-piece NWOBHM tinged, epic heavy metal band hailing from Seattle, Washington. AGENTS OF POWER is the band's third full length release following up a previous LP for Itay's Metal On Metal Records and a self released cassette tape. You also may have heard Skelator on "Heavy Metal Hell - A Tribute To Metalucifer" where the band performed their rendition of "Northern Heroes".
AGENTS OF POWER kicks things off with the title track of the album. A galloping, melodic dual guitar ass kicker. Vocalist Jason Conde-Houston has a really great voice for this kind of metal, falling somewhere between Gerrit P. Mutz of Sacred Steel, James Rivera of Helstar and Midnight formerly of Crimson Glory fame with his range, choice of phrasing and delivery. "Rhythm Of The Chain" is one of the best heavy metal anthems I've heard in a very long time. I instantly became a fan of this band when I heard this song for the first time. This song musically combines the best of seventies Priest and early Saxon and has a really catchy chorus and some amazing guitar solos. Starting with the instrumental "Overture" the fifth track on AGENTS OF POWER the band begin to tell their tales in twelve parts of Elric the Kinslayer a character from the swords and sorcery themed books of the popular fantasy author Michael Moorcock. Where "Overture" showcases the strength of the bands musicianship as a jam band, the next track "Elric: The Dragon Prince" begins with a renaissance themed acoustic guitar interlude and a ballad like delivery from Jason Conde-Houston before breaking into a thick crunching of badass riffery and pounding fierceness heard throughout the rest of the track. Even the tracklisting on this disc seems well thought out. When you absorb the songs in chronological order as a listener it's almost like watching a movie in your head.
"Stormbringer and Mournblade" is another classic for headbangers to enjoy. All of the elements of awesomeness are in place on this track. Bitching dual lead guitars, aggressive and menacing heavy metal vocals, and a solid rhythm section that know how to stay inside the pocket. Your head should not stop banging/nodding on this one. On tracks like "Pulsing Cavern" or "The Young Kingdoms" Jason mixes up his delivery in full on narrator mode, further adding to the aforementioned cinematic qualities of this concept album. "Cymoril" is a haunting bard like ballad with some spacy harmonies and somber atmosphere. Just as the listener is taking in this new found ability of Skelator to mellow out ever so slightly that thought is cut short with the hellbent, pissed off, bloodlusting fury of "Rubble and Ash" a speed metal face melter that hacks and decapitates in equal parts as "Die! Die! Die!" comes screaming into your headphones. The high notes and vocal delivery coming out of the guitar solo section is fucking amazing! One thing that's interesting to note: On "Fate, The Dreadful Curse" vocalist Jason Conde-Houston sings his ballad like parts with a Finnish accent. Just listen to him pronounce the word "wish" not sure what's going on with that but it still sounds pretty cool. "Elric The Kinslayer" is another fast and mean spiked leather gauntlet to the eye socket. These guys just can't help themselves from beating the listener senseless. They're very generous as a band in that regard.
The album artwork is a very nicely done battlefield portrait of Elric the Kinslayer. The accompanying booklet has plenty of band photos, lyrics and album credits and the overall album production of the CD is top notch. I would definitely recommend this CD to all fans of traditional heavy metal, speed metal, NWOBHM and those with an interest in the writings of Michael Moorcock. This is one of the best CD's I've heard all year and will definitely make it on my year end best of list that we usually compile in December. I'm keeping a watchful eye on Skelator and I'd advise our loyal readers to do the same.