Fireworks

Agents Of Mercy - 'The Black Forest' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d5/21/cb/1837_agentsofmercytheblackforest_1325702680.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 04, 2012    
 
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Fans of the classic Prog genre will love it.

I was shocked when I discovered that The Flower Kings (TFK), had entered hibernation for an unspecified period of time, as seemingly certain members had become jaded by their prodigious album and touring routine. Fortunately, this means that Roine Stolt (guitar & vocals) and Jonas Reingold (bass) could devote more time to other musical outlets such as Transatlantic, Karmakanic and in this case Agents of Mercy (AOM), the latter of which seemed destined to be an occasional side project.

I very much enjoyed their previous albums (‘The Fading Ghosts of Twilight’ from 2009 and the following year’s ‘Dramarama’) but with this one it feels as if they’ve finally carved their own identity rather then being considered an offshoot of TFK. Here AOM project a darker persona than hitherto thus reinforcing their specific identity. The darkness is probably no surprise when one considers the underlying premise for this concept album which I won’t go into here, suffice to say the Black Forest is a metaphor for a journey through disturbing and scary times (i.e. the world we’re living in right now). The title track opens the album in wonderful, epic fashion; over its eleven minutes it explores a range of sounds and emotions from the initial musical stabs, that brings a horror movie soundtrack to mind, through various mellifluous passages, both vocal and instrumental, and on to the huge and thunderous pipe organ finale. ‘A Quiet Little Town’ may be shorter in length but it too has different phases, it’s notable for the superb bass work by Reingold, which brings a Gentle Giant vibe to proceedings. ‘Elegy’ is a magnificent piece where a plaintive piano from Lalle Larsson underpins Nad Sylvan’s emotive vocals and Stolt tops it off by delivering one of his quintessential guitar solos that oozes melody and class. Sylvan also seems to be finding his own sound rather than coming across as a Peter Gabriel / Fish hybrid.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The heavier aspect to AOM is then brought into focus through ‘Black Sunday’ and ‘Citadel’, the former driven by Walle Wahlgren’s precise and powerful drums together with a guitar refrain that’ll get the heads banging. I smile every time I hear Larsson’s Moog solo, it’s delightfully retro. The latter alternates what I think of as Stolt sung TFK sections with those that are heavier and unlike that other band. The performance by each band member is top quality across the album and there’s not a hint of filler material amongst the eight tracks, which are relative short (aside from the opener) for a Prog album. That said they are long enough to spread their wings both musically and stylistically. The closest thing to TFK is the delightful ‘Between Sun & Moon’ which has the kind of beautiful melody Stolt seems able to write in his sleep. The way the track builds is another Stolt trait as is his superb guitar accentuations.

Fans of the classic Prog genre will love it.

Gary Marshall

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  • Berny : You can pre - order FIREWORKS MAGAZINE #97 now!
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