Agent Fresco - Destrier - (9/10)
Published on October 9, 2015
Highlighted by stellar new releases from Leprous and Arcane (and in due time Caligula’s Horse), the year has been pretty generous to fans of alternative prog rock/metal. And yet another special gem that should find a place on the ole Infinity Gauntlet must be Destrier, the second full-length release from Iceland’s Agent Fresco.
The curiously named quartet seem to be minor celebrities in their coastal hometown of Reykjavik—a recent trip to the country saw their album displayed in at least a couple different coffee shops—and for good reason. Destrier is a true multilayered work with skin after skin of variegated tones and shades that individually treats all 14 of its songs like spoiled single children.
Blending and sautéing their influences into a heterogeneous and utterly unique concoction, few descriptors accurately nail down Agent Fresco better than modern, progressive, and alternative. Generic adjectives, through and through, but combined, something quite unique has emerged. For the music is at once light and heavy, simple and complex, accessible and divisive, with each of the four players sharing the spotlight, each man taking his own turn and making his own spin on Destrier.
The tender, touching vocals of Arnór Dan Arnarson exist as the most immediate highlight. With a bevy of cloud-scraping highs and the occasional sojourn into darker places (“Angst”), he shapes the album with a brave, honest performance. Of course, Agent Fresco are indeed the sum of their moving parts and triumphant earworms like “Howls” and “Bemoan” and the album-titled “Destrier” attain such pressure-changing elevations on the strengths of several well-meaning and well-practiced shoulders.
Fans of djent and metalcore may find enjoyment here, as should fans of indie/alternative crowd favorites Death Cab for Cutie and Muse, but Agent Fresco prove they are quite unlike any of the mentioned, and this strange and quiet niche that they’ve carved for themselves is precisely where they’ll continue to turn heads from afar.