(Long Branch Records/SPV)
Agent Fresco’s sophomore release is basically the perfect progressive rock album. It has everything going for it. With a sound that’s one part dredg (remember them?), one part Leprous, one part Fair to Midland, and one part Muse. Put another way, Agent Fresco is bizarro version of Tool where the band grew up on Radiohead and Coldplay, mixing an appreciation for art rock in all its forms with a grand sense of songwriting. This means Destrier is bombastic, powerful, and surprisingly melodic for something in the prog realm. Agent Fresco’s sound does a phenomenal job skirting pop sensibilities with interesting musicianship, making songs like “Dark Water” and “Wait For Me” impressive and memorable.
Destrier has that initial “wow” factor down, which is partly due to the playful and diverse musicianship on hand and, in large part, due to Arnor Dan Arnarson’s impressive pipes. His tenor definitely suits the majestic quality of the music, and he even shows off a solid scream in the wonderful and appropriately named “Angst”. If there is a problem with Destrier, it’s what happens after the initial “wow” wanes. That’s not to say this is a shallow listen, or that it doesn’t stand up to multiple listens. Instead, you’ll find that Agent Fresco’s impressive musical depth and variety can come across as a bit of a crutch as well as a benefactor. The Icelandic band is equally adept at piano ballads as they are progressive bangers, but you’ll find times when you wished they didn’t play hopscotch with their sound so much.
That said, with their second album, Agent Fresco has really proven themselves. For a band who has become quite popular in their home country, Destrier is the perfect gateway to showcase this talented band. The group’s modern take on progressive art rock couldn’t have found a better vessel than this album, and they’ve absolutely proven their worth on this beautiful record. (Nicholas Senior)