Agent Steel - Swarm Over London - Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1987
Century Media
Classic Speed Metal
13 songs (53:59)
Release year: 2007
Agent Steel Home Page, Century Media
Reviewed by Jeff
Crap of the month

In case you readers haven't noticed, this is my third Agent Steel review in almost four weeks! To say that I've been on some kind of Agent Steel kick is a conspiracy theory in itself! New releases by bands usually make me go back and listen to previous releases as well. In this case, it was Alienigma that inspired my recent hunger for more Agent Steel.

It just happened by chance that I came across Swarm Over London - Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1987 while surfing for albums on the Century Media website. I tried to do some research on this CD before buying it; if there were any other reviews, sound clips, etc. I really didn't have much luck with any additional information other than the track listing provided by the website (which seemed pretty impressive). I shelled out the $12 and took my chances.

The end result of my experience with this CD is somewhat disappointing. For one, the CD was mailed to me already opened; (in some cases there are distributors that do mail out CD's without shrink wrap. I've noticed this is the case with a lot of imports). There were some minor scratches on it too. I popped it in my CD player and within the first thirty seconds of the first track I could already form some conspiracy theories of my own as to what I just purchased!

Yes fellow readers, Swarm Over London - Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1987 seems to be a bootleg of some sorts. It covers John Cyriis era material from the first two Agent Steel albums; Skeptics Apocalypse and Unstoppable Force. There is one live track, The Unexpected, that never made it to any studio albums and there are five demo recordings that eventually made it to their first album. Both the live and demo recordings are below average. This album should have been titled Swarm Under Water because the recordings sound like they were recorded under water! The CD insert booklet has song lyrics but no credits as to the production of the recording or even a mention as to the label that pressed the CD! Just to reiterate, I did by this CD from Century Media. I've not seen this album sold on any other websites, not even the official Agent Steel website. I have to conclude that Century Media somehow got a hold of this recording and decided to distribute this piece of shit, hence the dreaded Crap of the Month logo.

The over all performance of the band is nothing short of stellar or amazing and it's a shame that a crappy recording like this takes away from that. The concert is still somewhat listenable so if you like recordings of a bootleg quality than this might be for you. The vocals are probably the one thing that stand out the most. John Cyriis is pretty much flawless vocally; hits all his notes with no problems. This guy must have drank a twelve pack of Jolt cola before the show because he is so full of energy and doesn't sound tired or winded by the end of the show. It also sounds like he must have shoved a few Energizer batteries up his ass and had his balls attached to an electric shocker because his vocal vibrato and siren like wails are almost higher than that on the studio albums. You can't help but feel the man is being electrocuted or shaken to death!

The guitars are the other thing that stand out next to the vocals. There seems to be a lot of chorus effect on them. It's very hard to hear the drums. They sound muddy and as if someone is pounding a bunch of pillows. As for the bass? It's buried in there somewhere with the long lost Atlantis!

The one thing that might make Swarm Over London - Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1987 worth while are early demo versions of songs like 144,000 Gone, Evil Eye, Evil Minds, Agents of Steel, Guilty as Charged and Taken By Force. All of the songs have that compressed four-track sounding quality. 144,000 Gone is slightly different from the final version that made it to Skeptics Apocalypse. The first part of the song contains a spoken demonic intro and is reprised at the end of the song. There is also some different music and a few other parts in the song that vary from the final version on Skeptics Apocalypse. Also, this version sounds like a different vocalist is singing on it. There are no wails, high pitched throttle screams or Geoff Tate like vocals. I believe it was recorded when John Cyriis was in Sceptre. In fact, Taken By Force (which is the best sounding track on the whole album) sounds like it was recorded during the same sessions as 144,000 Gone. There seems to be two vocalists used on Taken By Force because some parts sound like the vocalist on 144,000 Gone and then there are John Cyriis high pitched vocal throttles during the chorus parts of Taken By Force. I'm not even sure if all the vocals are done by John Cyriis on those two tracks. As for the rest of the demos, they sound very similar to the final product versions that ended up on Skeptics Apocalypse.

Unless you are a die hard fan of Agent Steel or of somewhat below average bootleg type recordings, I don't recommend this. There are better Agent Steel live recordings out there. In fact, go to their website and check out some of the bands live videos. If anyone is interested, contact me if you want to buy my copy of Swarm Over London - Live At The Hammersmith Odeon 1987 !


Killing Songs :
All would be if the quality was better, but if I had to choose, Taken By Force (demo version), Day At Guyana (live)
Jeff quoted no quote
Other albums by Agent Steel that we have reviewed:
Agent Steel - Alienigma reviewed by Jeff and quoted 90 / 100
Agent Steel - Earth Under Lucifer - EP reviewed by Jeff and quoted no quote
Agent Steel - Order Of The Illuminati reviewed by Jeff and quoted 86 / 100
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