Agro - Ritual 6
South African bands do not flood the market, at least to me that is a rather unknown territory when it comes to heavy metal. The only other band I can mention without any longer time of thinking is Tribe After Tribe, but there end the resemblances as well. Agro has earlier released five albums with national distribution, but with their sixth album, entitled Ritual 6, on Armageddon Music they will have their first international release.
Agro turned out to be a band that is hard to pin down, they offer a mix of nordic thrash and melodic death, although no growls, as well as american thrash, and especially of the Bay Area sound. First track out after the intro is Carpe Diem, basic groovy thrash with an uplifting beat that starts the album in a good manor. With the song Time Heals Old Wounds, the tempo is set slower and comparisons to the danish band Mercenary feels natural, and I would even go as far as saying that the songs have some goth influences. Agro show some good musical skills in B.D.F.P. that holds a long instrumental part with something that could be described as progressive Bay Area thrash.
Agro has, suitable to their name, a great deal of controlled aggression in their music, as well as a sense for melodies. The band makes mostly good use of the keyboard, it supports the music well and also gives a nice touch with some harmonies combined with the guitar. Although in the song Whizzdel the keyboard feel misplaced and could have been left out and they should have just let it ripped with the guitars instead.
It feels like there is much to be improved in Agro, you can hear that they are not any newcomers, but it feels like that with just a little adjustment here and there this could be something so much better. The vocals is the part that needs the most immediate work, there is no need to change the guttural voice but to make better use of it and to sing more instead of stacking the words would be preferable. And in the melodic songs, or just the melodic parts in some songs, a clean voice would have been better.
And in A Place Of Healing they have listened to me and included some clean vocals that make the song so much more dynamic. Further it contains more speed and more aggression. There is more determination in this song, yet it is very melodic and the harsh voice from Cliff Crabb comes out greatly. This track with its melodic sense, yet based in Bay Area thrash in the vein of Sacred Reich and Machine Head, is easily the one that brings out the best of Agro. More of this the next time please.