Agents of Oblivion Agents of Oblivion

After the death of bassist Audie Pitre in 1997, Louisiana's eclectic death kings Acid Bath decided to call it a day. That tragedy couldn't stop front man Dax Riggs, one of metal's most essential voices. For Agents, he assembles Acid Bath guitarist Mike Sanchez and a cast of area musician friends for a rousing take on Southern rock-drenched groove. The result is an album's worth of easy-going rockers that you might even hear on alternative radio. The huge guitar wall erected by Sanchez and Riggs on "Phantom Green" and "Endsmouth" also surrounds the band's cover of an Acid Bath fave "Dead Girl," breathing new life into an already exciting cut. "Slave Riot" and "Ash Of The Mind" conjure up images of '70s arena rock, while "A Song That Crawls" sports Riggs's Jim Morrison/Neil Young vocal swagger and honky-tonk blues. Keyboardist Chuck Pitre (no relation to Audie) adds a tangible layer of moodiness to the quieter "The Hangman's Daughter" and "Wither." The band effortlessly retains the gentle, '60s psychedelia of Marc Bolan in a cover of T. Rex's "Cosmic Dancer." Though it really doesn't work for most established bands without a loss of integrity, change has done wonders for Agents of Oblivion, the most original act to come out of the Bayou since Soilent Green. (Rotten)