"Death Ray" (Streamline Records; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton 

With its driving guitars and relentless pace, Artificial Agent does some damage with their album, "Death Ray."

"Death Ray" is one of those CDs that catches your attention from the very first note. The guitars are big and crunchy with a little funkiness thrown in when necessary (as on "The Devil Made Me Do It.").  The songs are loaded with sticky hooks that will have you singing along the first time you listen to each track. They're not syrupy sticky hooks but they're not subtle either. It makes for addictive listening. The moment the album comes to an end you can't wait to start listening from the beginning again.

The thing I think I like most about "Death Ray" is that its sound is in the classic vein of bands like Blue Oyster Cult, UFO and the like but with a more modern edge. We're not talking nu-metal or anything like that here. "Death Ray" is hard rock through-and-through, but the songwriting style, the vocals and the production all sound a little more like today instead of yesterday.

Speaking of the production, I love the way "Death Ray" sounds. The guitars are bright and in-your-face, whether it's a riff or a solo, and the vocals are clear and the lyrics understandable. That overall clarity has a big effect on the album's success.

My favorite tracks are probably the opener, "Eye for an Eye,"  the pulsing "We All Need Heroes" and the powerful "Always a Victim" although, to be completely honest, there isn't a track here I don't like.  "Death Ray" is the kind of recording that makes you sit up and take notice of a band and, trust me, I've already begun to dig up their back catalog ("Brain Grenade" from 2014, here I come!)

Artificial Agent is: Derek Jendza; Mike Elgert; Brad Jendza; Karl Crafton. If some of those names sound familiar, you might check out the review found here.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2020 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.