AGLO – Build Fear Review

There are two fandoms I belong to enjoying unprecedented levels of new and ever-expanding content. Metal is one. There are more bands, more genres, and more ways to put metal in my earholes than at any point in history. Anyone who has read my AMG contributions knows my metal bonafides. Given the number of times I’ve dropped references in reviews, astute readers also know I’m a Star Trek fan. Trekkie, a term applied to those obsessed with what began as Gene Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the Stars,” is one I claim. I attend conventions dressed as obscure characters, I frequent Trek-themed parties and bar crawls, and a monthly trivia night where the athletically ungifted gather with their own to answer Trek-related questions that are harder than Tuvok during Pon Farr.1 After a 12-year drought of no new Trek,2 2017 saw the launch of Discovery and a domino effect of new shows in the years since. So, what could be better than having new metal and new Star Trek ever at my fingertips? Why, watching the two climb into bed together to mash uglies, of course. Aaron Osborne is the mastermind behind AGLO, a Star Trek-themed fusion of death doom and sludge more unnerving than that abomination Tuvix.3 Will his debut full-length Build Fear be ecstatic fan service like the third season of Star Trek: Picard? Or will it be disappointing and confusing like the first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard?

Death doom influences range from Incantation (“Last Rites,” “Storm of Fears”) to early Peaceville Three (“Shame as Weapon,” “Into the Maze”), but Osborne’s heart obviously belongs in New Orleans: the future home of Sisko’s Creole Kitchen and the birthplace of sludge doom. The first thing one notices about Build Fear is how disgustingly heavy it is. The guitar tone is pure oily black sludge, like Armus with the Taco Bell shits. AGLO have set to record a sound heavier than Worf’s warrior heart after Jadzia Dax was murdered by Rick Berman a Pah-Wraith-possessed Gul Dukat. Crowbar can be heard clearly in “Relativity Undone” and “Warhead,” but songs like “Regression,” with its scuzzy Southern groove, call to mind the mighty Eyehategod.4 The record builds melodically throughout the tight 36-minute runtime, with quite a contrast between the ugly tremolos of opener “Last Rites” and the aching emotion of closer “Into the Maze,” but the evolution is gradual and well-integrated, unlike that time Tom Paris and Captain Janeway evolved into salamanders and had salamander babies.

Build Fear by AGLO

A quick perusal of AGLO’s Bandcamp will show you a special affinity for Trek villains The Borg. This is fitting, as Osborne’s ability to assimilate his various influences into a unified collective speaking with one voice is a major strength of Build Fear. The biological and technological distinctiveness of death doom and sludge have been perfectly adapted to service AGLO to the point that the sounds are inseparable. Try as I might to pick apart these songs with phaser fire, they adapt their shield harmonics and become impervious. The best way to experience the string of crushing riffs Osborne stitches together across Build Fear is the same way you watch Deep Space Nine episodes once the Dominion War starts. Just let it roll from one to another to another until the next thing you know, everyone is gathering at Vic Fontaine’s for one last song before heading to new assignments.

Before I get too carried away fanboying like Bradward Boimler meeting Captain Riker of the Titan for the first time, 5 I have to admit to a couple niggling issues. I expect the vocals will be a litmus test for those who will or won’t go all in on AGLO. Osborne has a kind of hoarse death metal bark that sits on top of the mix as if Build Fear were still a demo. I admit they could be better, but ultimately his vocals do fit in rather charmingly with the corrosive production job courtesy of Taylor Young. Unlike most death metal lyrics, it’s a shame they’re unintelligible here, since each song loosely follows an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. For instance, “Warhead” is indeed about the episode titled (checks notes) “Warhead,” where B’Elanna Torres must disable a near sentient AI missile bent on carrying out its deadly mission.6 Also, while the blending of death doom and sludge is a neat, albeit increasingly common trick, nothing in AGLO’s sound pushes the boundaries of either genre, playing it safe, but undeniably fun.

If Build Fear were an episode of Trek, it wouldn’t be one of the very best, like “In the Pale Moonlight” or “City on the Edge of Forever” or “Those Old Scientists,”7 but it would be one of the very good ones, like “Scorpion” or “The Defector” or “Parth Ferengi’s Heart Place.” This is one of if not the heaviest record I’ve heard in 2023, and any fan of knuckle-dragging death doom or sludge will find the grooves irresistible. AGLO have released a promising debut. Hopefully the project lives long and prospers.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Brilliant Emperor Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 10th, 2023

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