It’s hard for me to grade a new Strung Out record because Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues is one of my top three records of all time, of any genre. So even if a new Strung Out offering is really good I find I have to force myself away from unfair comparisons.
Agents of the Underground is a really good record, much better than Blackhawks Over Los Angeles. If you’re like me and you were getting tired of the metal-ish thing Strung Out had been experimenting with over the past few albums you’ll be pleasantly surprised. This album is more melodic, more closely resembling their older music, pre-Twisted By Design. If the songs from Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues were played at half-speed, it would sound like this album; melodic yet slower than their previous melodic offerings. Black Crosses, the album opener is absolutely excellent. It’s the most up tempo on the album and the most similar to Suburban Teenage… and Twisted By Design. The rest of the album sounds like Suburban Teenage played at half speed. Good but not the best.
If you’re already a Strung Out fan I highly recommend this album. I’d say it’s their best since Element of Sonic Defiance. If you’re new to Strung Out I’d try Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted By Design first. It’s great to hear new music from one of the best punk rock bands of the past 15-20 years. They’ve still got it.