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Trouble Agency - Suspected

Trouble Agency
by Chris Hawkins at 07 May 2018, 4:30 PM

When I first started to play guitar after having played bass for a few years prior, I immediately wanted to jump into playing Black/Death Metal.  At the time, there was a guitar player that hung out in my circle of friends who shared our interest in Metal, though admittedly leaned more toward the traditional side.  I remember asking him why he would want to play such "easy" stuff with the overflowing amount of skill he had, and he replied telling me that it was much harder to play triplets and use alternate picking than tremolo picking.  Putting him to the test, I played a riff he showed me compared to a typical riff of the material I'd been working on, and sure enough, he was right for his riff caused my picking hand to go numb after just a few repetitions.  I immediately had a newfound respect for Jon Schaffer from ICED EARTH in particular whose riffs are full of the alternate picking and triplets which my guru had praised.  The point I'm getting to is that just because something is extreme does not mean it is more complicated or difficult to play.

TROUBLE AGENCY skillfully employ the type of riffs I'm touting in this review.  They were formed in 1993 in Brussels, Belgium, and their Thrash Metal tenure is more than evident from the recording.  Theirs is a sound that is equal parts traditional Thrash and Crossover, and though there are a ton of Thrash revivalists out there now, these guys are legit old school.  The ten tracks included on "Suspected" reflect a mature, refined sound replete with ample circle-pit inducing riffs and old school breakdowns.  Who knew there was this much brutality in Brussels?

The album opens with "Pawn of God," a song chocked full of hand-numbing riffs and an excellent introduction to the band's blend of Thrash and Crossover.  "Survival of the Fittest," the second track, is based around a sick riff.  This is one of those riffs where you stop everything you're doing to enjoy it fully whether that be at a party, in your car, or at your desk.  Who cares what people think at the traffic light?  The fourth track, "Sad," comes in close to eight minutes long and can be characterized as a dark "ballad" with its own melancholy built around groove-based riffs and narrated vocals that sound more than a little like "Dead Skin Mask."  The seventh track, "Collateral Damage" features a more straight-forward approach with a main riff hearkening back to PRONG's "Beg to Differ."  It's the kind of riff that certainly has not aged well despite good intentions as it's been done over and over before.  The rest of the song, however, reflects more of the high-quality TROUBLE AGENCY employs throughout, and the galloping riff at the 3:48 mark is truly mind blowing.  The title track, number eight, has a welcome and blatant Crossover sound likened to a cross between SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and ANTHRAX, and the breakdown is sure to incite more than a few mosh pits.

With an aggressive, hard-hitting drummer and an ever-present, unburied bass sound, the rhythm section of the band is perfectly locked down for their style.  Vocally, the singer reminds one of D.R.I. or even more recently, MUNICIPAL WASTE, with a penchant more for the Hardcore side of things than traditional Metal singing.  The high point of the band's sound, though, is the guitars which have an exceptionally tight tone enabling every nuance of their picking style to be audible.  It's an extremely fat sound, modern, high-gain, and compressed.  Ultimately, the tone does well to exhibit the band's mastery of alternate picking and triplets which are extremely well articulated.  The band plays like a machine, and in their syncopated rhythms, one can hear the early 1990s EXHORDER/PANTERA influence that obviously pervaded across the Atlantic.  TROUBLE AGENCY plays American Thrash performed by Euro-Thrashers, a sound somewhere between D.R.I. and DESTRUCTION and heavy on Hardcore attitude.  It's clear that regardless of the year, Thrash is here to stay, and TROUBLE AGENCY have the kind of dedication, drive, and delivery required to make their presence firmly known.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 7


3 Star Rating

1. Pawn of God
2. Survival of the Fittest
3. Tears of Blood
4. Sad
5. Back Off
6. What's Done is Done
7. Collateral Damage
8. Suspected
9. And Then You Kneel
10.  Banksters
Didier Vancoppenolle – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Larry V. de Rostyne – Lead Guitar
François de Bock – Drums
Simon Mouawad – Bass
Kevin Nolis – Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 08 December 2022

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