AGENTS OF MERCY
The new progressive rock powerhouse from ROINE STOLT (TRANSATLANTIC - The Flower Kings ) & NAD SYLVAN (Unifaun) , with JONAS REINGOLD,
LALLE LARSSON, WALLE WAHLGREN without doubt some of the most impressive musicians on the contemporary prog rock scene.
A prog rock unit that focus on the rock - meets classical & folk element that was so popular in the 70's among bands like Led Zeppelin,Genesis & Yes.
The 2011 version of AoM has ventured into a slightly heavier journey, letting some of the improvs blossom in a live setting, with nods to both Crimson,
Led Zeppelin, Mahavishnu Orchestra and of course contemporaries like Transatlantic, still firmly in orchestrated pomp och glory.
All started March 7th 2009, when Foxtrot Music released "The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight" - by AGENTS OF MERCY.
The album. a LTD edition Digipack with 77 minutes of brand new music spawned from a "low key" acoustic project that Roine Stolt set out to do in 2008, but after getting singer Nad Sylvan (Unifaun) onboard to do a few "guest vocals" it turned into a full production prog album where Nad got more involved and did most of both lead and backing vocals on the album.
Songs got longer and vocal arrangements more elaborated and more symphonic and the common love of late 60's and early 70's prog and artrock is all over this album.
A few favourite drummers tracked for the 12 songs, Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, XTC, Mr Mister, Stickmen etc.) Zoltan Csörsz (TFK, Karmakanic) and Jimmy Keegan (Santana, Spocks Beard Live) the eccentric Biggo Zelfries did most of the piano, violin and analogue keyboards and TFK bassist Jonas Reingold added some fretless bass spice too.
A cluster of artful influences ranges from The Beatles, Queen, ELO, (early)
Genesis, Supertramp, CSN&Y, Klaatu, The Move, Pink Floyd, XTC, Claude Debussy, (early) Bowie.
Silas Toball (www.silastoball.com) did the mysterious artwork for us and the album is mixed by agent Stolt at Cosmic Lodge as usual.
The Review - Prognaut:
Agents Of Mercy, for those that don’t know, is a side project from The Flower Kings mastermind, Roine Stolt. Nad Sylvan of Unifaun provides a bulk of vocals with his unique voice. They are joined by on different tracks by an amazing roster of guest drummers; Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Tuner etc.) Zoltan Csörsz (TFK, Karmakanic) and Jimmy Keegan (Spocks Beard Live). Fellow TFK member, Jonas Reingold provides fretless bass.
Musically, Agents Of Mercy falls under the song oriented symphonic progressive rock genre, which is very similar to Roine and Nad’s respected bands. They do have a unique identity. The uniqueness comes partially due to Nad’s vocals, as it takes a while to get used to. A brief description is a mix of classic Yes (Roine’s guitar playing) & mostly Lamb-era Genesis (Nad‘s vocals).
Once you start listening to The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight, you are instantly hooked. Each song is like a musical and lyrical journey. The lyrics are often cynical, which is another part of the band’s unique qualities. My favorite tracks are the opening title track, “The Unwanted Brother”, "Afternoon Skies" (shows off an acoustic side of the band), “Heroes & Beacons”, “A Different Sun“ and “Ready To Fly”. These tracks stand out the most for me.
The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight is by far one of the best releases of 2009. I believe that this is both artist’s most inspired work to date. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a long road for these agents. Perhaps they’ll support the album with a tour and maybe even gracing one of the many progressive rock festivals here in the USA. There are many elements on this album, that draws me to progressive rock in general. So a high recommendation is in order, especially for fans of The Flower Kings and Unifaun.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on May 23rd, 2009
........................................................................................................................ Review - Progwalhalla:
Here’s another Roine Stolt project, it’s one of Progwalhalla’s best running items so I was very curious to their sound. Well, to me the 12 varied and melodic songs sound as a blend of progressive pop, Art-rock (Queen, 10CC), symphonic rock (Genesis and Procol Harum) and modern progressive rock (Spock’s Beard, The Flower Kings), tastefully arranged with a wide range of instrumentation (from a lot of vintage keyboards to ukelele and fretless bass by Jonas Reingold). The English vocals sound inspired, the lyrics have a (often cynical) meaning and we can enjoy many different atmospheres in the 12 compositions, from dreamy and slow rhythms to bombastic.
Roine Stolt delivers many fiery and biting guitar solos along work on the acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar and ukelele and Biggo Zelfries has an important role by pleasantly colouring the songs with his Minimoog, Hammond, Mellotron and acoustic – and electric pianos, his work gives a typically Seventies touch (especially on the titletrack, Heroes & Beacons and Bomb Inside Her Heart) to Agents Of Mercy their sound, apparently this modern and accessible sounding progressive music appeals to many progheads.
Erik Neuteboom - www.progwalhalla.com
•Agents of Mercy: „The Fading Ghosts of Twilight“
Roine Stolt‘s new project with the great Nad Sylvan while the Flower Kings are on hiatus. The most exquisite, subtle and sad music of the year. Sublime themes, subtle instrumentation, getting better over time like a good wine or whisky. Perhaps it‘s a question of age? This music belongs to a mature kind of art that only unfolds and speaks to you after you‘ve crossed a certain point in your life, a point when you‘ve seen and thought much, when the once vibrant colours of life begin to fade and memory seems to be more important than ever; when the world that was once yours with so much expectations, music and beauty slowly recedes into twilight, and only the ghosts of all that was dear to you remain. Stolt & Sylvan knowingly tell of that „twilight“, those „fading ghosts“ without being sentimental but with a noble and loving nostalgia. “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” (Dr. Seuss)
Review by Andre Moeller
"DRAMARAMA "I think I have just died and gone to heaven, the stunning stages that have been created here by the interaction of such luminaries, just beggars belief." "The whole beauty of the album is that it’s a grower, the more time you allocate, the richer the reward is. I cannot find one negative thing to say about this album; being a very close contender for album of the year" "
— John O'Boyle, Dutch Progressive Rock Pages -DPRP
"DRAMARAMA "So along comes 2010 and now we have a brilliant sophomore release from Agents of Mercy to enjoy called Dramarama. Lead singer Sylvan sounds like a cross between Gabriel and Fish, he certainly has a unique and pleasing vocal style that seems to fit quite well with temperaments and atmospheres provided by Stolt and company." "I have listened to this album countless times and have not tired one bit from what it has to offer and there always seem to be something that catches my ear or touches me on an emotional level that didn't the previous time I gave it a spin. That is what prog rock is supposed to do, capture your imagination, create imagery in your mind's eye and challenge your psyche.""
— Keith Hannaleck, Various
"DRAMARAMA "The album is an evolution in the real sense of the word as Roine appears to have taken all the good genetics from Fading Ghosts, rejected the bad bits and added a little more good on top." "I've had this CD for nearly three months now and listen to it regularly, it's a real treat, certainly one of my personal favourites of 2010 (certainly the track Meet Johnny Walker hits the spot for me since the first time I heard it, in fact I'm still whistling it all the time now).""
— Dave Baird - Dutch Progressive Rock Pages DPRP
"DRAMARAMA" - _AGENTS OF MERCY
Swedish quintet Agents of Mercy’s album Dramarama occupies that curious yet sweet spot between progressive rock and pop-rock. The group’s sonic approach draws on the usual suspects, but if they sound like any other group, it’s post-Peter Gabriel era Genesis before that group went (too far) in the pop direction.
That Nad Sylvan is a vocal ringer for Phil Collins certainly adds to the similarity. The group’s progressive compositional tendencies are kept tethered to the ground by an assertive yet straightahead rhythm section (Jonas Reingold on bass, and drummer Walle Wahlgren). Renowned guitarist Reine Stolt (of Flower Kings, Transalantic and who-knows-what-else) adds plenty of melodic yet head-spinning licks throughout.
A track like the album opener “The Duke of Sadness” moves through different sections; some parts are more pop than others, and bits evoke the style of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but in the end the track is an exemplar of prog-leaning music that remains accessible to more mainstream tastes.
Majestic, expressive keyboard work courtesy of Lalle Larsson gives Dramarama much of its prog credentials. The liners list his arsenal — grand piano, B-3, Minimoog, Rhodes, Wurlitzer electric piano, synths – but a keen listener would have spotted most or all of those instruments in any event.
The melodies across the album’s dozen tracks are all memorable, and various bits will likely lodge themselves in the listener’s memory. Designed as a complete listening experience, Dramarama’s songs tumble into one another. But a few tracks do stand out. “Peace United” swaggers like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” minus the world-music trappings, then it veers (quite pleasingly) into an And Then There Were Three-era Genesis vibe.
Some lengthy and tasty synth soloing – coupled with a soaring wah-wah guitar solo — is a highlight of “Journey.” The anthemic “Gratitiude” sounds like Collins, Rutherford and Banks joined by a fretless bassist. With its Mellotron-ish tones, “Meet Johnnie Walker” may evoke mental images of – of all things – Klaatu and/or Electric Light Orchestra. It’s also a contender for best album track among a bunch of fine ones.
In general the lyrics on Dramarama – composed by Stolt, Sylvan or (occasionally) both – concern themselves with upbeat, positive themes. While not nudging the subject matter in quite the religious/philosophical direction of Transatlantic, it’s mostly about life as a quest and so forth. But here the pop emphasis keeps things nicely balanced; Dramarama safely avoids progressive rock’s tendencies toward (on one hand) lyrical self-importance and (on the other) treating the lyrics as an afterthought.
If you’re a prog fan who wants to draw a pop-oriented friend into the fold, Dramarama is a good entry point, as its charms will give you both plenty to like.
Bill Kopps Blog Spot MusoScribe, USA
"DRAMARAMA "As you can imagine from the likes of Roine Stolt, Jonas Reingold, Lalle Larsson, and Walle Wahlgren, the level of musicianship is very high. These guys are some of the most talented prog musicians from Sweden, and it shows on DramaRama. The vocals from Nad Sylvan took some time for me to appreciate because of his unique tone, but once they're given some time to sink in, I realized that he's quite a talented vocalist. The production is terrific. It showcases the modern amenities in production while maintaining a vintage seventies sound. This is the perfect sound for the album.""
Jeff B - Sea Of Tranquility
" THE FADING GHOSTS OF TWILIGHT The English vocals sound inspired, the lyrics have a (often cynical) meaning ...... from dreamy and slow rhythms to bombastic. Roine Stolt delivers many fiery and biting guitar solos ...... –....this modern and accessible sounding progressive music appeals to many progheads. "
— Erik Neuteboom, Progwalhalla
" THE FADING GHOSTS OF TWILIGHT They are joined by Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) Zoltan Csörsz and Jimmy Keegan. The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight is by far one of the best releases of 2009. I believe that this is both artist’s most inspired work to date. "
Ron Fuchs - Ron Fuchs