Artist: Agent Side Grinder
Genre: Electronic Post-Punk / Industrial
Release Date: 26th April 2019
Label: Progress Productions
Sweden’s AGENT SIDE GRINDER have scampered along their career path with a nose for bigger and better along the way. From slightly murky Industrial and Dark-Techno origins, they developed a keen ear for a tune and attracted the attention of festivals and bigger bands looking for good support. ‘Hardware’ was a big step forwards in 2012, and 2015’s ‘Alkimia’ considered by many to be their best work. Have they peaked? With ‘A/X’ it’s hard to say. The ideas certainly haven’t run out, but the execution is suspect at times.
Despite a somewhat ‘90’s feel to opening song ‘In From The Cold’ - spoken word samples are somewhat lacking in impact these days - it’s dark and stately enough, twisting and turning over a background of whooshes and interesting percussion, and ‘Decompression’ has some seriously spooky breathing sounds running throughout. It takes an age to get anywhere, but it is genuinely sinister. On ‘Stripdown’ there are rather predictable DEPECHE MODE comparisons to be made, and it’s a spirited enough pop song that’s aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Great chorus too. Nice. ‘Allisin Sane (No2)’ grates along like nails on metal, at once hard to listen to yet strangely compelling, ‘Doppelganger’ much cleaner of sound, but sounding terribly dated. It builds upon itself, electronic noise by noise, and this is a trick AGENT SIDE GRINDER have certainly perfected -it’s done so you hardly notice.
There’s an irresistible pulse driving ‘The Great Collapse’ onwards, and it would make a great soundtrack to driving through a particularly bleak and stormy night. ‘MM_CM’ will leave all but the most advanced chin-stroker confused - it’s a funky mess with robot vocals, something a group of kids given free reign on the school synths might have come up with. Not good. ‘Inner Noises’ has more purpose, a tight and urgent feel throughout, and closer ‘Wounded Star’ has a guest vocal by Canadian / Danish Coldwave singer SALLY DIGE. It’s a powerful rumble, like a thunder in some distant valley, and a stunning way to end the album.
So a bit of a mixed bag really. ‘A/X’ feels at times rather unlovingly thrown together than carefully arranged - there’s plenty of variation here, perhaps just not enough consistency. Stand-out individual tracks do not always make for good albums, and this could well be the stumbling block at this point.
01. In From The Cold
04. Allisin Sane (No.2)
06. The Great Collapse
08. Inner Noises
09. Wounded Star
https://www.agentsidegrinder.com / https://www.facebook.com/agentsidegrinder
Total: 7 / 10