Unstoppable Force - 1987 - Combat
The Omega Conspiracy - 2000 - Candlelight
Order Of The Illuminati - 2003 - Artillery
Alienigma - 2007 - Mascot
S= Abattoir, Sceptre>>John Cyriis [John Camps] [Max Havlock]>>Pontus Prophet, Malfeitor, Lemegeton, Black Reign, Outer-Gateways, Stellar Seed- Sybil, Steel Prophet>>Bruce Hall>>Steel Prophet, Psychosis
G= Bernie Versailles>>The Militants, Engine, Redemption, Fates Warning - Abattoir, Evil Dead, Détente, Masters Of Metal>>Juan Garcia>>Evil Dead, Détente, Masters Of Metal, Killing Machine, Abattoir - Kurt Colfelts [Kurt Kilfelts]>>Holy Terror - Jay Weslord - The Militants, Engine, Redemption, Fates Warning, Masters Of Metal>>Bernie Versailles>>Engine, Redemption, Fates Warning, Masters Of Metal
B= Slicer, Abuser>>George Robb>>Obscene Gesture, Détente, L.S.N., Violent Revolution - Michael Zaputil - Purgatory>>Richard Bateman>>Nasty Savage, After Death - Sanctuary, Evil Dead, Terror>>Karl Medina
D= Abuser, Pontus Prophet, Malfeitor>>Chuck Profus>>Pontus, Prophet, Malfeitor, Obscene Gesture – tactics, Terror>>Rigo Amezcua>>Masters Of Metal
How this band can reform without front space cadet Cyriis and call itself Agent Steel is beyond this writer. Needless to say, Cyriis returns from his UFO long enough to legally set the band straight before taking off again. Skeptics Apocalypse was initially meant to be a mini-LP. Right from the start, the high-pitched shrieks of vocalist Cyriis were a source of debate within the metal scene. Publicity and the band's music being favourable, Agent Steel's brand of powerful speed metal soon took off. The music was not the only thing to take off. Cyriis was seeing UFO's everywhere, believed to be in contact with the aliens, insisted the band wear orange space suits on stage to be ready for alien abduction, signed autographs always as 2011 for the year he would be 'back,' took his mother on the bus with him for the European tour (insisting she'll never get another chance) and pretty much developed a reputation for being hard to work with.
Cyriis had approached Profus and Robb. Shortly after the formation, the Los Angeles-based band opened for Slayer and signed with Combat Records. This based on the 144,000 Gone demo of 1984. After the debut, the new line-up (Kilfelt was off to work on Holy Terror) recorded the Mad Locust Rising MLP. At this point, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth invited Cyriis to audition for the vocalist slot for his band. In 1987 the band moved to Florida ostensibly to be closer to the Bermuda Triangle. The move left some members back in California and it was a newer line-up that toured Europe with Overkill and Anthrax. Guitarist James Murphy was on the road with the band (and Cyriis' mom), an event which left him traumatized; for years denying his involvement in the band.
Rumour had it that Combat finally snapped after Cyriis was caught in an S&M episode with a roadie. After a few follow-up bands, Cyriis disappeared and even the reformed line-up's best efforts years later could not locate him. The band reformed in 1998 by Juan and Chuck. Believing Cyriis is not in the solar system any longer, the band signed to Candlelight Records and issued a new album in 2000 - complete with a extra terrestrial cover art! - only to hear from Cyriis' lawyer. Following pressure from original vocalist John Cyriis, Agent Steel was called Masters Of Metal in 2001. In the meanwhile the band had celebrated its return by performing at the Wacken Open Air Festival. The band's new singer, Bruce Hall, was introduced to the band by Bernie Versailles who had worked with the vocalist in the past. In the ensuing year, the band had to change its moniker due to legal pressure.
Cyriis re-emerged in 2002 with the exotic speed metal band Stellar Seed (originally dubbed Outer-Gateways) from Florida. He went under the Max Havlock name now. Simultaneously Stellar Seed contacted Metallian to deny John Camps to be the actual civil name for the former Agent Steel singer. According to this contact, the man's given name is Max Havlock. Order Of The Illuminati readied a new album for 2003 with drummer Rigo Amezcua, original drummer Chuck Profus having left the business earlier that year. In the meanwhile, Order Of The illuminati had reached a settlement with Cyriis allowing them to use the name Agent Steel once again. As part of the settlement, Cyriis issued a statement endorsing the new line-up.
Order Of The Illuminati appeared in the summer of 2003 through the band's own AOS/Artillery Music. The record was given a release in Europe by Scarlet Records and in Japan by King Records. In the autumn of 2003, Agent Steel dropped off the Bonded By Metal Over Europe Tour following unspecified disagreements with its booking agency. The tour continued without the Americans. Later in 2003, the band issued a new four-song EP. The release featured three classic songs re-recorded that year (Mad Locust Rising, Unstoppable Force and Agents Of Steel), as well as the title track to the new album Order Of The Illuminati.
The band's DVD Live @ Dynamo Open Air was released at the beginning of 2005 and featured live footage from band's appearance at Dynamo Open Air 2004 festival in Holland and also a few songs from the warm-up show at the Effenaar in Eindhoven and some bonus material. The band was also planning on releasing a new album in 2005. In the meanwhile, Steel Prophet recruited Bruce Hall. Of note, Ray Alder of Fates Warning had replaced former Steel Prophet singer Rick Mithyiasin in Redemption.
The band signed to Mascot Records in the summer of 2006. The band entered the studio with Bill Metoyer to record a new album. Profus and Robb regrouped as Obscene Gesture in 2006.
Hellion’s Ann Boleyn and Agent Steel’s guitarist Juan Garcia joined Détente members Caleb Quinn (guitar), Steve Hochheiser (bass) and Dennis Butler (drums) to perform as Détente at July 2008’s Headbangers Open Air festival. Whiplash, Agent Steel and Nekromantheon were playing a one-off show on August 13, 2009 at Smuget in Oslo, Norway. Amoral pulled out of a proposed autumn of 2009 tour with the band claiming a lack of information.
Singer Bruce Hall was asked to leave Agent Steel in April of 2010. The former singer complained of having to walk in the shoes of original singer John Cyriis from the ‘80s. Surprisingly, Cyriis reared his head again and rejoined the band after an absence of 22 years. Further blurring of the line between metal and pop: 70,000 Tons Of Metal, a heavy metal themed cruise ship, would sail Monday, January 24th, 2011 aboard the Royal Caribbean from Miami, FL to Cozumel, Mexico and would return on Friday, January 28th, 2011. Several of the bands participating included Iced Earth, Agent Steel, Testament and Trouble. Agent Steel performed with original singer John Cyriis at 2011’s Sweden Rock Festival, which was held June 8-11. The singer had returned to the band the year before. Agent Steel guitarist Juan Garcia joined Armored Saint on stage at Metal Blade Record's 30-anniversary show on November 30th, 2012 at the House Of Blues in West Hollywood, California. Masters Of Metal, featuring members of Agent Steel Juan Garcia, Bernie Versailles, as well as Robert Cardenas and drummer Rigo Amezcua (drums), would release its full-length debut From Worlds Beyond on September 18th of 2015 through Metalville Records. “Masters Of Metal, Agents of Steel” line stems from Agent Steel’s debut album Skeptics Apocalypse.
STELLAR SEED - THE GODZ OF MAN
AGENT STEEL - ORDER OF THE ILLUMINATI - AOS/ARTILLERY MUSIC
The name ‘George Robb’ might not be a household name in metal circles, but everyone knows Agent Steel – or they should. Agent Steel was the premier speed metal band out of the United States Of America in the 1980s. The band’s 1985 debut album, Skeptics Apocalypse, was not only a revelation of speed and unusually high-pitched vocals, but was full of metaphysical and bizarre notions straight out of the mind of a man hell-bent on aliens, the Bermuda triangle and life aura. It is time to rectify the situation if you don’t have that album. Ali “The Metallian” got hold of the early bassist for Agent Steel George Robb to speak about that band as well as his work since including his current act Violent Revolution. – 05.12.2015
Metallian: Welcome to Metallian Towers, George. Let's start with the early days. How did you get into heavy metal? From there how did you transition into playing metal music?
GEORGE: I was always into hard rock, as far back as age 12. One of my main earliest influences was Black Sabbath. The transition to playing metal was just natural I suppose. Before I got into speed and thrash I was a huge early Scorpions, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest fan.
METALLIAN: Was there something that triggered your interest in this genre?
GEORGE: It was definitely the transition to faster and heavier music for me. The speed/thrash scene was in its early stages and I, naturally, drifted in that direction. I would go out to the local L.A. shows and see Slayer, Vermin, Abattoir, etc. and that definitely gave me the itch to get into harder and faster music.
METALLIAN: Could you elaborate on your move from your native Philadelphia to California? Was it music-related?
GEORGE: My move to California wasn’t music related at all. I was 19 and twisted up in the drug scene in Philadelphia. I needed to get away from that shit so I made the move to Los Angeles with a friend of mine that I grew up with. Of course, I kept playing music and eventually got connected with the music scene there.
METALLIAN: The first band we know of that you were a part of was Agent Steel, but there were previous bands well. What were they like?
George: I was in several different bands early on in Los Angeles. Before Agent Steel I was in a band with drummer Chuck Profus called Abuser. Abuser was an all original metal band, kind of on the Iron Maiden side.
METALLIAN: What were the names of the other bands?
GEORGE (ponders): Damn… I hardly remember the others… I do remember one band, it was called Slicer and we did kind of hard rock covers and originals. That was in the very early ‘80s.
METALLIAN: I’ll take one name over nothing. So, how did you end up in Agent Steel?
GEORGE: John approached Chuck and I and said he had a project in the works. We pretty much dumped our Abuser project on the spot and went to work with Agent Steel.
METALLIAN: For its time Agent Steel was an extreme band. The group was one of the faster speed metal acts. How did it feel?
GEORGE: It felt fucking good at the time. Speed and thrash were in their early stages at that time and Agent Steel was definitely leading the way.
METALLIAN: How was it working with John Cyriis back in the day? Was he always as religiously and supernaturally eccentric?
GEORGE: Well… John was definitely passionate about his beliefs. He wasn’t the easiest guy to work with. I will definitely say that, but John had great vision.
METALLIAN: Could you elaborate on John's beliefs? Moreover, was it a concern to be in a band with someone who would be considered offbeat?
GEORGE: John was a firm believer in extraterrestrial life, which was a constant theme throughout Agent Steel’s song. And to be honest, that was a very unique theme at the time.
Yes, it was tough to be in a band with someone as erratic as John, especially since he was basically running the band (laughs).
METALLIAN: Was there a Christian element to Agent Steel? I am referring to the song and demo title 144,000 Gone for instance.
GEORGE: No Christian element at all. 144,000 Gone had more to do with helter skelter than the bible.
METALLIAN: There has always been a story about John bringing his mother on the road and onto the tour bus. Is this story true?
GEORGE: Never heard that story before…..
METALLIAN: This was during the European tour, which was likely after your time in the band. Any interesting memories of the scene back then?
GEORGE: The scene in the ‘80s was pretty crazy. There was so much going on and so much diversity. There were speed bands, the thrash bands, the punk bands and the upcoming death bands. It was still a tight community though and everyone knew everyone. You couldn’t go to a show without seeing 20 people you knew.
METALLIAN: What happened? Why did you leave the act or were you let go?
GEORGE: I was let go from Agent Steel, but the fact of the matter is it really was a mutual split. I just couldn’t deal with John’s shit at the time and I stayed away from the band for a while at the end of 1985. They ended up getting someone else to play bass. To be honest I didn’t care at the time.
METALLIAN: Could you go over the bands you subsequently joined? Détente is a well-known group. What about LSN, Vermin and Obscene Gesture?
GEORGE: I was in L.S.N. after Agent Steel, early 1986. The guitarist, Greg Checolavich and drummer, Mike Chicone, were from the former band Vermin. I was never in Vermin. Greg and I also played in Détente for a period of time, I think around 1987. Obscene Gesture was a crossover band I did with Chuck Profus and Vince Dennis (Bodycount) around 2006 and 2007.
METALLIAN: Let's talk about Violent Revolution. What keeps the fire in your belly after all these years?
GEORGE: You know, you just can’t shake that fucking urge… It never goes away. Also, and quite frankly, I am sick of hearing nu-metal. I feel the need to bring back some of the old ‘80s thrash.
METALLIAN: Thank-you for bringing mallcore, which is the correct phrase for that style, into Metallian. Could you tell the readers more about the political or lyrical themes of the band?
GEORGE: It’s less about politics and more about sparking change. There’s a line from a recovery program that states “we neither endorse or oppose any causes” and that is more or less the basis of Violent Revolution. Whether it be political, personal, or whatever… we want to spark change.
METALLIAN: Given the bent it seems odd that there are no lyrics with the CD.
GEORGE (laughingly): Guess you just have to listen to the tracks.
METALLIAN: OK what is the song All Hail about?
GEORGE: All Hail is about a politician who seems harmless until he is elected into office. Then he shows his true agenda.
METALLIAN: Sounds like The Manchurian Candidate! Could you talk about the imagery? For example, what are those images on the American flag?
GEORGE: The flag is shown upside down. That is a symbol of protest. It’s not about America, in particular, but the system in general. It’s time for a change!
METALLIAN: Would you elaborate on what you find is wrong and what change you desire? How would you script the change?
GEORGE: The world is evolving very rapidly and society is struggling to keep up. The political climate has gone stagnate in this country and many others. The only means of change is getting involved.
METALLIAN: Changing topics, what do you think of today's Agent Steel? Are you in touch with anyone from the old days?
GEORGE: I like some of the new Agent Steel. The last three albums were pretty good.
METALLIAN: What is new or upcoming with Violent Revolution?
GEORGE: We are currently writing several new songs and going to start laying down tracks for our upcoming album in the next month or so.
The Violent Revolution demo was reviewed here. The band’s website is at http://www.violentrevolution.net.
If you enjoyed this, read Assassin