Strung Out - Agents of the Underground (Cover Artwork)

Strung Out

Strung Out: Agents of the UndergroundAgents of the Underground (2009)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: LinoleumMagazineLinoleumMagazine
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Disclaimer: I'm a huge Strung Out fan. They're one of my all-time favorite bands, I love every single album they've released and I've had their Astrolux logo tattooed on my leg since 1998. It's hard for me to review a Strung Out album without basically just reviewing the band. I've seen them close t.
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Disclaimer: I'm a huge Strung Out fan. They're one of my all-time favorite bands, I love every single album they've released and I've had their Astrolux logo tattooed on my leg since 1998. It's hard for me to review a Strung Out album without basically just reviewing the band. I've seen them close to 20 times and they have one of the most genuine and authentic punk rock attitudes of any band in the genre. Sure, their sound often strays dramatically from being standard punk, but they are never less than a straight-up punk band. These guys express their love and appreciation of the fans more than most bands and they always provide a high-energy and sweat-filled live performance.

Agents of the Underground is their seventh studio album and 13th overall release on long-time label Fat Wreck Chords. The band admits they've always sorta been the black sheep on Fat Wreck Chords, but they remain one of the label's highest-selling acts, a testament to the band's rabid, diverse and highly devoted following.

This record contains the usual mix of incredibly fast drumming, technical guitar and Jason Cruz's passionate and melodic vocals. For this one they changed up producers and went with Cameron Webb instead of Matt Hyde, the latter of whom produced their previous two albums. The album sounds a little more bass-heavy and thicker, and there is a noticeable difference in the vocal sounds, which sound less overdubbed and produced. This should be a welcome change to many fans who had complained about the way the vocals sounded on their last two albums.

The band doesn't stray too far from their usual formula, however. Some songs are heavier and more metal-influenced, while others are more pop-punk sounding (while still being technical and fast). The opening track, "Black Crosses," is probably the standout track on the album, but as with most of their albums I love every song and it's very hard to pick favorites.

Overall, this album is really a perfect combination of their various sounds over the last 15 years (while still heavily leaning toward the slicker production and more metal-influenced sound they've had since The Element of Sonic Defiance) and is a very appropriate 20th anniversary release. If you liked anything they've released in the last 10 years you will love this album, and if you gave up on them after Twisted by Design, this might be the record that brings you back.


People who liked this also liked:
Propagandhi - Supporting CasteThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundA Wilhelm Scream - Career SuicideThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Flatliners - CavalcadeBad Religion - The Dissent of ManRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteBanner Pilot - CollapserStrike Anywhere - Iron FrontNOFX - Punk In Drublic

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
theproblemwithfire (March 16, 2015)

band is garbage, it doesn't matter if they inspired a bunch of other bands.

the biggest problem with strung out is that their music is lacking in dynamics and songwriting. People always tell me how much they shred, or how cool their riffs are, as if that's a huge selling point, but it's not because there are approximately 9 billion metal/thrash bands who shred just as hard, usually harder. There's also Propagandhi, Poison Idea, and A Wilhelm Scream, who can all easily play just as fast/technical.

Strung Out have always been stuck in a weird rut where they can't decide if they'd rather be a slick, technical metal band or playing poppy/melodic 90s skate punk, but they usually tend to lean heavily one way or the other, rarely combining the two genres seamlessly. Cruz does not have the voice for this band, his vocals have always sounded strained, a glaring fact only highlighted by the annoying double vocal tracks and studio assistance. Their lyrics leave a lot to be desired as well and in the end we're left with some kinda cool metallic riffing and passable background music. Like all their albums, there's still far too much filler for me to ever want to return to this album.

sjelenavnorden (January 30, 2011)

To be completely honest, I did not like most of Blackhawks Over LA. I thought the only good songs (and these were actually incredible) were "Calling" and "Downtown," and I thought "Mission Statement" was good after I got the idea of trying to do a positive punk song in a shitty time. We need to support that because we cant just go on hating all the time, even though that's what we're best at. But I thought this album was pretty good and pretty reflective of the 20 year anniversary of a band that refuses to quit putting out stuff that is original and awesome. To all to the haters: think about who is going to replace them: 110% suck screamo bullshit. Because they have been walking a fine line for a while, giving us music that, and they will deny, has never been made before, with differences that are very, very subtle from the shit we don't ever want to hear (i.e. Jason sings like a non-pussy). But the people who will listen to Strung Out and make music based on it, they WILL fuck it up, and they already have. I hope to be the only one who does it justice but I play bluegrass, and am working on an album called "Suburban Skategrass Breakdown Blues." So hopefully I can keep the dream alive for those in the Boulder area at least.... Keep listening to good music!!!!

idontcaretotry (October 2, 2010)

Outstanding album! I'm still listening to it all the time

endtroducing (September 1, 2010)

Great album! Can't stop listening to it!

skeptic667 (January 8, 2010)

I found it very hard to make it through the CD. Cheesy arena rock guitar solos galore. Sounds like they long to jump to the majors like Rise Against.

RedElephant (December 14, 2009)

still pretty pissed that i didnt go out to see them last month when they were out here. damn it.

paulrulzdood (December 14, 2009)

yet another solid Strung Out album.

I don't like it as much as "blackhawks", it is just a bit too dark & gritty and is lacking most of the pop-elements of their past albums, even the poppy stuff from "blackhawks" (all the nations, dirty little secret, mission statement) is pretty absent from this album, this is as metal as they've gone to date.

That said, it still has some fanstastic, technical, super-fast, metal Strung Out material. "black crosses" is yet another A album opener for them. "carcrashradio" is a solid lead-single. "the fever and the sound" might be the best song on the album, the chorus is very catchy with a cool vocal melody. Track 4 hearkens back to old(er) Strung out.

The middle part of the album lags and has some filler, but it closes incredibly strong with "andy warhol" possibly the best song on the album, certainly top 3.

it's as quality of a 7th (8th if you count "element") S.O. album as I could have hoped for. If you would have told me in 1999 that these guys would still be going strong in 10 years, I might not have believed you (but I would have been stoked on the news).


THE_BLACK_AND_BLUE_PRESS (December 14, 2009)

I submitted a review of this album at least a month ago. Maybe this one was submitted 2 months ago? Maybe mine just sucked? You be the judge:
http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendI d=55846508&blogId=518845027

hayman (December 13, 2009)

Awesome, another solid Strung Out album. I expected nothing less from these guys.

Tudor (December 12, 2009)

Why is that stupid buddy head review posted on every single Strung Out review? Who gives a shit about some snivling teenagers crappy review.

Eelsupinsideya (December 12, 2009)

That buddyhead thing - what a twat. Don't make promises you can't keep.
Anyway - great record. I'd lost a bit of onterest with SO a while back but this has pulled me back. Jordan fucking rips on this album...

88fl_rules (December 11, 2009)

Good cd, their best since a long time. This is their more .punk rock, pop punk cd since twisted by design wich is great

longshot (December 11, 2009)

It's pretty sad to say, but guarantess don't mean shit unless it's written down on paper. Lay down a contract and then you can bitch.

mattramone (December 11, 2009)


damo (December 11, 2009)

that buddyhead review gets posted on here frequently, the date just gets updated each time. seen it loads

this is still taking time to grow on me. 3.5 stars at the mo

TahoeJeff (December 11, 2009)

That buddyhead review is dumb. If you don't have the money to pay the guarantee and you are embarrassed to promote the show by handing out fliers, why would you agree to put it on? I mean, they know the definition of guarantee, right?

LinoleumMagazine (December 11, 2009)

I'd like to hear the other side of the story.

KevinJamesSuperFan (December 10, 2009)

VIA BUDDYHEAD; Worth Reading

Strung Out ‚?? The Element Of Sonic Defiance

December 10, 2009 ‚?Ę By Aaron North

Another fat band and I have another story relating to a show I put on for a fat band. (when I say ‚??fat‚?Ě band I‚??m referring to the record label this band is on, not the members‚?? weight, even though there are old fat men in this band) So a few years ago I agree to put on a show with these guys cos they have a hole to fill in their tour and they need help blah blah blah so what the hell. I‚??d never heard of the band, I just assumed they were another wack Nofx-ish band since they were on Fat. So I do the show and the bands‚?? guarantee is $1000.
The show had to compete with like 3 other shows and was on a school night in the middle of the week yadda yadda yadda. So anyways, the show ended up doing not so hot. After telling all the opening bands they were getting fist fucked cos of Strung Out‚??s guarantee, asking the club owner to kick me down with some money they made at the snack bar, and including the money I was supposed to reimburse myself with for making flyers, expenses etc., I was able to come up with $900.00. Basically I was losing my ass on the show, especially for a high school kid that worked at Blockbuster.
When I told their dicknose ‚??tour manager‚?Ě I could only pay the band $900.00, I expected the dork to say something like, ‚??Wow! Thank you for helping us out with the show last minute! Thanks so much for doing it even though you and everybody else knows this band sucks toe jam! I can‚??t believe we were able to even do that well on such a fucked up night! Considering that we made your life a living hell tonight by drinking in the parking lot and trying to squeeze all our stripper friends in on the guest list that you tripled for us, that‚??s amazing! And on top of that thank you for having to endure the embarassment you went through having to go to record stores and be seen passing out flyers for a show with a band this wack!‚?Ě
Guess what, he didn‚??t say that. He said they weren‚??t leaving until they got all their money. Then the groups fat hippie bass player asked me where my car was so he could slash my tires in case I wasn‚??t able to pay up. So I had to beg the club owner for even more money and then find an opening band and even take more of their money. Then I had to give them my gas money to get home. I ended up pan handling in front of the gas station later that night. Anywhoo‚?¶ The music on this cd here is a lot less like Nofx than I thought it would be and is actually a lot like modern metal mixed with prog rock. Not that that‚??s good, just different. I still felt like I needed to take a shower after enduring all the cock rock solos on here. There‚??s actually a couple cool little production touches on this thing here and there. I think I can go as far to say that this is probably the most ‚??professional‚?Ě sounding recording I‚??ve heard from the fat camp. (haha, I just said fat camp) I figure the 5 bucks I got back for trading in this cd is just the beginning of the money these dickheads owe me. I haven‚??t figured it out yet, but someday I will settle the score.

itsAgiftANDaCURSE (December 10, 2009)

I don't know why it took them so long to review this. This is definitely the best punk album of the year.

skeetopunk01 (December 10, 2009)

Andy Warhol is by far the best and catchiest dong on the album. I like this album but not as much as the last two. Strung Out never puts out a bad record though.

facetofacereunion08 (December 10, 2009)

The only thing i really love of theirs is suburban teenage wasteland blues...every song on that is a keeper

rodeoandpicasso (December 10, 2009)

as odd as it sounds to say about a skate punk band, this record had to grow on me before i liked it. After the first few spins i thought this was horrible, but with each subsequent spin i slowly warmed up, i must disclose i had no hopes at all for this album, but it is certainly a pleasant surprise, and worth checking out if you long for something from this band that proximates the twisted by design blueprint

TiNours (December 10, 2009)

Review is spot on.

woodprop (December 10, 2009)

The first three tracks are great, rest are ok, but I'm enjoying this album much more than Blackhawks. I cringe at the autotune though. Whenever Ultimate Devotion comes up on my ipod , it reminds me what Jason's voice actually sounded like before he transformed into a robot.

Alien (December 10, 2009)

Andy Warhol is a really really good song, but the rest of the album hasn't sunk in with me all that much.. yet.

TahoeJeff (December 10, 2009)

This is the Strung Out that I like. I need to give it a few more listens, but I'm tempted to say that this might be their best full length since Twisted By Design.

mikexdude (December 10, 2009)

If Barry doesn't find this amazing (and she's a super fan), I'm really worried!

cherrycolarain (December 10, 2009)

I personally think "Andy Warhol" is the weakest track on here.

onegirlarmy (December 10, 2009)

I truly think "Andy Warhol" might be one of the best songs Strung Out has ever written.

danperrone (December 9, 2009)

"andy warhol" is so, so, so good. "black crosses" is also very good.

the rest, ehhhhhhh. too much middle of the road punk metal. they either need to go balls to the wall ("black crosses") or poppy ("andy warhol").

onegirlarmy (December 9, 2009)

As much as I wanted to love this, I just like it.

souls21 (December 9, 2009)

I really like this album. I'll admit that I have never really listened to this band before but I heard you guys raving about this record so I decided to check it out. Definitely took a couple spins to grow on me. First time through, a lot of the songs sounded the same and the vocals sounded almost fuzzy and not very clear which was hard to get used too. But now I have no problem saying it is one of my favorite releases this year. Black Crosses is amazing and every other song isn't far behind.

Hubitcherkokov (December 9, 2009)

As usual, they close out the record with one of their strongest songs ever, a tradition I hope they never break. "Andy Warhol" is absolutely one of my favorite songs in their catalog.

I love that Strung Out closes out their albums with arguably the best song on the record.

Love this band. One of my favorite releases of this year.

R3vengeTherapy (December 9, 2009)

This is a much appreciated surprise. After Blackhawks I figured I'd never be all that excited about another Strung Out release again, but they proved me wrong. I'm very happy they went with Cameron Webb this time around, as the record sounds like a SO record should. The last two really didn't do it for me production-wise.

As usual, they close out the record with one of their strongest songs ever, a tradition I hope they never break. "Andy Warhol" is absolutely one of my favorite songs in their catalog.

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