AGNOSTIC FRONT: ONE VOICE (1992)
1) New Jack; 2) One Voice; 3) Infiltrate; 4) The Tombs; 5) Your Fall; 6) Over The Edge; 7) Undertow; 8) Now & Then; 9) Crime Without Sin; 10) Retaliate; 11) Force Feed; 12) Bastard.
Two years in jail had not quenched Miret's rebellious spirit, but they certainly seem to have thrown him off the track. Clearly, his new-gained experience provided him with new inspiration. 'New Jack' opens Agnostic Front's new album with prison sounds — chain rattles and some passionate monologue about "telling the world what goes on behind these bars", that might have been extracted from some movie I cannot identify — and the lyrics are telling: "You thought in the streets that your life was so unfair and cruel / Make one careless mistake here boy and you'll drown in your own pool".
It's too bad the band was unable to make proper use of that inspiration. Part of the blame lies on Roger himself, still gurgling out the words in his Liberty & Justice manner. But most of the actual songs are co-credited to Miret and the new lead guitarist, Matt Henderson — curiously, the only line-up change since the pre-jail period (apparently Stigma, ever the loyal consigliere, played the major part in stringing the band together, patiently waiting for Miret's reappearance), but a most significant one.
Because One Voice moves ever closer and with ever more aggressive defiance into heavy metal territory. Few people would identify it as «hardcore punk» — the guitars are low, crunchy, and, for the most part, slow: even on the fast-tempo numbers, such as the title track, the guitarists play half-notes rather than quarter-notes (or something like that), so that feeling of over-the-top insanity that you get from hardcore is replaced by cold metallic calculation.
In metal, this can, and will, work if the riffs are good — but these guys here are no Sabbath or Metallica; in their entire career, Agnostic Front have not produced one single riff that could compete with any of the metal greats. Hence, the twelve tracks just float by as a predictable single lump of boring metallic mush. Lots of chugga-chugga-chugga, growling power chords, but not even any kind of novelty value. I can vouch for the fact that the riffs are different from each other — but that still does not make them any different from each other, if you get my drift.
Professionally trained metalheads, perhaps, will be able to squeeze out some enjoyment, but I don't see why the heck anyone should listen to this instead of Slayer. Maybe because the lyrics are less dumb and more down-to-earth? But, first of all, you can't make out the lyrics without a piece of paper anyway (and what sort of idiot would listen to a hardcore or thrash metal album with a lyrics sheet on his knee?), and, second, we already know just about everything Roger Miret has to say. I mean, I'm sorry for the guy's prison term and all (although it's not as if he did not deserve it — as far as I know, nobody ever said the drug charges were trumped up), but it is hard to claim that he had had some sort of grand poetic revelation grow out of his personal problems. If you insist that life sucks, then life sucks, period — regardless of whether you're in the streets or in jail. Nothing else to it. Thumbs down. Very boring stuff.