Coming back from the dead after almost fifteen years between two albums, the American progressive metal band H-hour returns to the fold with his new disc, “Agenda 21”. When it comes to writing this kind of music, it’s not an easy task. It’s melancholy. Bad jokes aside, it makes perfect sense that the guitarist Jasun Tipton and singer Erik Rosvold would recruit the bass monster that is Andreas Blomqvist (Seventh Wonder) and drum beast Roel Van Helden become the percussive backbone of the musical megaworld that is H-hour. “Agenda 21″ is laden with atmospheric groove, contains go leor riffs and faithfully respects the characteristics of the genre – there are many long songs with a ton of parts, time signature changes and ridiculous displays of musicality. Take your metronome and proceed with caution.
Going straight to the juggler, we are drawn into a 14-minute epic titled “Democide” which takes us from an atmospheric groove to downtown Riffopolis. The song begins with clean ambient guitar arpeggiating chord progressions that are backed by a high-end hat-driven groove with Blonqvist syncope with Van Helden‘s bass drum. Remember this feeling, this is the last time you will have it for about five minutes. From there, we’re on a white ride through the journey of a progressive metal riffmeister as a hopeless dystopian worldview is painted for us by Rosvold. The song moves back and forth between heavy riffs and clean parts before ending with clean guitar arpeggios outlining a chord progression and a mix of lyrics and vocals.
“The digital drug is lobotomy” is the main proclamation of Rosvold in their second song”Technocracywhich begins with a frequency-filtered melody played by Tipton before the song opens and the melody turns into a rising track. Of the Rosvold takes the lead in the song and brings us into the verse which has a beat somewhere in the 1980s Ozzy Osbourne and Dream Theater in that there is a straight chord riffing followed by progressive upward moves in a back and forth subdivision stuffing between a 3 count and a 5 count. The song then takes us on a journey of progressive metal filled with weirder time signature changes and instrumental themes while Rosvold sings in disbelief of the state of technocracy.
Their next song”Stigmas » kicks off with an electronic groove before the band arrives to play their syncopated hits that take us further on a progressive metal adventure of just over nine minutes. Lyrically, we mean a view of the world and of self through a Christian perspective. The song ends ethereally, hearing clean atmospheric guitars until it ends with just a chord synthesizer and vocal keyboard patches.
Then, we have “Memento Mori” which is the closest thing to a ballad that we’re going to get on this record. There are some very heavy lyrics in this one. It’s deep and personal and if you can follow along you’ll hear a very powerful and sad story about the death of a loved one. Musically speaking, this song breathes air as it is driven by clear, reverberating guitars throughout the song while complementary bass melodies are integrated into the groove laid out by Blomqvist.
Without wasting time, our next track”Agenda 21” brings us back to the metal side of things and arrives with intense riffs from Tiptonbacked by ferocious percussion from Van Helden. Rosvold sings of a dystopian, freedom-stricken world over seriously jagged riffs, ambient clean guitars and weirder time grooves. One of the highlights for me was the clean section bass line around the four minute mark.
H-houris the last piece on “Agenda 21” is called “patient zero” and it closes the album in style as a ten-minute epic that begins very calmly and turns into a driving progressive metal journey. Through the perspective of a political prisoner, we are told what life was like, what is life and ultimately how the prisoner finds resolution within. All of the band members shine on this song with their respective instruments, and each of them has a moment that will wow you on this track. as the song rises, the tension is released and the end of the song and “Agenda 21” gently leaves us at the edge of an atmospheric furrow.
21″ diary ticks a lot of boxes that any fan of the genre would want to fill, and fans of the band will have this album on repeat, as it holds up well against their other albums. However, a common problem that plagues this genre as a whole is the lack of brackets. It’s an extremely difficult balance to strike between chops and eye-catching segments, and throughout “Agenda 21” I found myself having the exact same problem here. All in all, after almost 15 years between releases, H-houris back with “Agenda 21” is a solid throwback effort into the world of progressive metal.
Produced by: Frontiers Music Srl
Release date: May 13e 2022
Gender: Progressive Metal
- Erik Rosvold / Voice
- Jasun Tipton / Guitars and Keyboards
- Andreas Blomqvist / Bass
- Roel van Helden / Drums
“Agenda 21” track list:
- Memento Mori
- Agenda 21
- patient zero
Lyrically, “Agenda 21” is a provocative and thoughtful album that will challenge your worldview if you give it a chance. Despite some lackluster vocal melodies and repetitive guitar riffs, there are plenty of examples of individual and group musicianship that will make you want to return for a second and third listen. .