Sound — 10
Few albums can be deemed masterpieces. There are certainly many, many great, astounding, incredible albums that have been made over the decades. Some very great, some sort of great. But only a small fraction of those that are even great can truly be labeled as masterpieces. Blue Oyster Cult's 1976 album "Agents of Fortune" IS a masterpiece, plain and simple. Few artists can pen so many simplistic yet memorable musical passages throughout the course of one album, perhaps even one single song, as Blue Oyster Cult. Spanning numerous genres and styles, Agents of Fortune sounds more like a collection of separate, unrelated artists than it does one single album. Yet, somehow, Agents of Fortune manages to carry with it a disturbing amount of consistency. It's hard to explain; you'd had to have listened to it to understand. It's just that, from track one, "This Ain't the Summer of Love", Agents of Fortune sets up a very dark and disturbing theme. Yet, through the depression is an underlying uplifting feeling, almost like a revelation. Numbers like "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and "Morning Final" manage to pull through a dark tunnel of sadness and bring you, ultimately, to a lighter, happier place. That's not to say, though, that the album doesn't still carry with it a heavy amount of darkness. Although that, I believe, is part of the album's appeal.
Lyrics — 10
Though Blue Oyster Cult have clearly mastered the art of songcraft, their lyrical craft is held in equally as high regard. The most moving song on the album is probably "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", which, as the title suggests, explains how one shouldn't fear death. In the final verse, Roeser sings of a woman who is greeted by the Reaper, but does not fear it. It's truly an uplifting song. Many other songs on the album tell vivid tales of love and death, a theme that carries pretty much throughout the entire course of the 10 songs.
Overall Impression — 10
It's hard to put into words how great the album as a whole manages to be. Many songs take on a bleak, disturbing atmosphere, while still managing to be ultimately uplifting, as I mentioned before. By this point in time, it's clear that Blue Oyster Cult were becoming a more serious, deep band than they had shown on previous albums. Not that their previous albums were bad, but Agents of Fortune is clearly their strongest and undoubtedly most important work. Every song is worth a listen, and by the time you've listened to the whole thing, you truly realize why the album has survived these past 30 years. We should toast to another 30 more, because a masterpiece like Agents of Fortune isn't likely to be forgotten soon.